Saturday, November 27, 2021

Not so secret of success



Tara O’Neill

Several years ago my husband and I were visiting the outer banks of North Carolina. In the lovely town of Duck we found a gift shop that specialized in quaint, erudite, and whimsical hand painted signs on driftwood. It was a bottomless well of humor and pithy insights in all sizes. As charming as it was, my first thought was: How the heck do these people make money?

Then a certain sign caught my eye, and although I didn’t buy it (how do these people make money?) it stayed with me, like a tune one can’t seem to forget. Sort of. I remember the gist anyway…and that it was possibly said by a past American president. Maybe Coolidge? Still, I really do think the message is tops:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; the unemployment lines are stacked with geniuses. Only persistence is omnipotent. It’s not quite right, and there could be more that I don’t remember. But it seemed like the perfect validation to someone who had already realized she was going to need more than just her talent and splendid good looks to succeed in today’s world.

In my household, when things fail to go as hoped, we usually quip, Okay, next time will be better! It can apply to everything from a botched meal to an off-mark painting to a failed business venture. (I also think it would make a grand tombstone epitaph, but that’s one of those thoughts that creep most people out.) We believe this because as long as you keep participating you have to get better. Hey, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

While trying to find my quote from the Duck sign shop I came across this: I’m convinced that what separates the successful entrepreneur from the unsuccessful ones is pure perseverance. Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs! Come on, who’s going to doubt the practical wisdom of Steve Jobs?

Finally, there is one quote I never need help remembering, it’s simple, straight from the heart and right to the point. It hangs over the door to my studio on a humble post-it note. And it also comes from another great American:

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. Babe Ruth

If I ever get back to Duck I’m going to look for the cute sign shop and drop a few dollars there. After all, I feel like I owe them something.


Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at

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