Never Give Up

| April 07, 2005

John Latta
Executive Editor
jlatta@eTrucker.com

It happens.

We can’t always escape the troubles that come into our lives. We can’t avoid facing some trials, and there are battles that have to be fought. It doesn’t matter whether you drive a truck or you’re a tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar or thief. They will happen.

You can roll around all the possibilities in your mind while you’re running down an interstate. This might happen, or that might happen. You could attack or you could defend. You could get steaming hot under the collar or you could stay cool and try to sort it out that way. You could go this way or that. You could follow this person’s advice or that one’s.
But in the end there is only you. The single biggest factor in how you come out of a battle is how much fight you take into it.

There will be a lot of places you can turn to find help or inspiration when you are under siege. Maybe there’s someone whose judgment you trust or who can encourage you to do your best. Maybe there’s a self-help guru you’ve read. But I’ve always thought most self-help books were written to help the self that wrote them make some money. And if you need someone to kick start you or make your decisions for you, then you’re probably not going to handle your problems all that well.

Truckers don’t usually have a professional support network. All of you with your own high-powered attorney or crisis counselor raise your hands. And truckers have a well-deserved reputation for being some of the last hard-headed individuals out there. There may be more “I’ll do it my way” people behind the wheel of a big rig than there are in any other industry. And heaven knows you don’t have someone to do the dirty work or take the fall for you like a corporate executive.

Nope. When people, or circumstances, come after you, bent on bringing you down, there’s just you.

My mother’s motto for handling heavy loads was always, and still is, “Press on regardless,” something she learned from her own indomitable parents. And she’s done it all her life. She’s one of those “unsinkable” women. My dad, a World War II veteran, introduced me to the words of Winston Churchill at a very young age. Churchill, son of an English Lord and an American mother, was a well-known underachiever as a youth. That automatically endeared him to the teenaged me. Now, today, oratory seems to be a lost art with politicians relying on “clever” original remarks created by people they pay to come up with them. But Churchill, Britain’s wartime leader, was one of the greats. I listened to him (I bought recordings of his speeches and thus came to be considered one of the first true geek-nerds at my high school), and I read him (Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature).

From Winston Churchill came this advice that has never left me: “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” He was speaking in 1941 as Hitler’s Germany seemed unstoppable and about to devour an almost helpless England.

Churchill also said at that time: “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

A lot of things will change during a battle. One thing never should. No matter what the problem is, tell your adversary that even if it is a long hard fight, they need to know this one unchangeable fact about you: Whatever happens, you will never, never, never, never give up.

Because, in the end, there is only you.

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