Growing up on a small farm, Andy and his dad worked some long hours together. But sometimes they just relaxed, “sittin,’ spittin’ and whittlin’, as his dad called it.

Those times were more than the obvious conveyed by the name. Dad used them to teach his son tidbits of wisdom. To illustrate his point, dad would often tell a story. “There will always be someone in your life to tell you what you can’t do…even while you are doing it,” was followed by the story below.

“An old Alabama farmer entered the local coffeeshop of the small town. Spotting a group of his buddies at a table, he joined them for a session of hot coffee, tepid gossip, and outright stone-cold lies.

Over the brim of his cup, one old-timer eyed him curiously and then ask, “Where ya been lately, Clem? Ain’t seen ya ‘round heah in several days.”

Clem never looked up from studying his own coffee in front of him on the table, then finally answered, “Waal, I took ol’ Jake, my mule, up to Looweeville.”

“Why’d ya take him all the way up there? Is he sick or sumpin?”

“Naw, Jake ain’t sick or nuthin’. I just took him to run in that there Kaintucky Derby.”

Everyone at the table stared in astonishment and unbelief, until finally a rush of adrenalin loosened their tongues.

“Ya did what? Ya can’t do that!”

“Are ya crazy, ya can’t run that dumb ol’ mule in th’ Derby!”

“Clem, you old fool! Jake’s jus’ a mule, he shore don’t belong in no thoroughbred horse race!”

On and on it went, the jibes and laughter at Clem’s expense. Until finally Clem raised his head and with a gleam in his eye he replied, “Waal, I’m shore glad you fellas didn’t say all this to Jake, cause he mighta been too scairt to try, and never won that whole darn race!”

Oh yeah, admittedly the story was a bit embellished. But still, Andy’s dad was right. There will always be someone around to discourage you from trying to accomplish something unique. And if you make the fatal mistake of listening to these “just being realistic” voices in your life, and you end up too discouraged to even try. Success or failure can often depend upon whose voice inside your head that you choose to heed.

If you have a dream, then dream. Expand your ideas. Study all angles. Do a lot of research on the subject. If it seems to still hold all the possibilities that you originally thought it would, then approach a trusted acquaintance with your idea. Someone who will simply listen, who can encourage the positive, point out the problem areas to be fixed, and refrain from ever trying to discourage you.

A mule might not ever get to win the Kentucky Derby. But look how much farther he would go in life, by being encouraged to simply try.

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