There’s an old story about a thirsty traveler who came across a pump in the desert. An attached note explained that there was a jar of water buried nearby to prime the pump.
“You’ve got to give before you get,” the note said.
The traveler was faced with a dilemma. If he poured the water into the pump, he couldn’t get it back. Worse, he was going to have to work hard to pump out the water from the well with no guarantee of success. However, if he drank the stale water in the jar, he would never get to taste the sweet, cool water from the well. He would also ruin any chance for other travelers to get any water from the well, since there would be no way to prime it.
So, with a sigh, the traveler poured the water into the pump to prime it. Then he began pumping the lever as fast as he could. He pumped, and he pumped, but no water came out. There wasn’t even the sound of water coming up the pipes. But he pumped and pumped some more….and then some more….and then some more. Even though he was becoming increasingly frustrated, he knew he couldn’t stop. As soon as he stopped pumping, the water would go back down into the well.
Just when he didn’t think he could pump even one more time, he heard a gurgle of water….then another….and then, to his joy and amazement, out poured a flood of cool, clear water!! Everything changed at that point. He no longer had to pump and pump to get the water out. The slightest pressure sent water gushing from the spout. Slow, easy strokes were all he needed to keep the water flowing.
So it is with success in just about any worthwhile endeavor you undertake. You’ve got to give before you get. You’ve got to work hard, and you’ll have no guarantee of success. If you stop working hard, your success will slip away from you, but if you persist even beyond what you think you can do, your reward will often come.
Don’t drink the stale waters of instant gratification; put in the work to prime your pump!