The Fifth Best Story You Ever Heard

Rix Quinn

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This is not the best anecdote you ever heard, but it is one you will likely remember. It will teach you a lesson you can apply immediately.

I'm not even sure this story's true. But reportedly - way back over 150 years ago - a young man found himself in San Francisco without a job. Since he had some newspaper experience, he interviewed for a writing position with a newspaper there.

“Sorry, ” said the editor, “but there are no jobs available. ”

The young man though for a moment, then countered, “Well, what if I work for free? You can test my ability, and it won’t cost you anything. ”

You can guess how this story ends. The newspaper tried the writer, loved his work, and – after a few days – hired him. That writer was Sam Clemens, who’s better known as Mark Twain.

Now, the lesson here, surprisingly, is NOT “offer to work for free. ” The suggestion is simply this:

“Become a Progressive Pessimist. Look at the downside of every situation, and figure out how it can benefit you. ”

Let’s face it. There’s lots more bad news than good news. This gives you lots more opportunity to apply the Progressive Pessimist’s upside down logic.

To test this theory, look at a daily paper. Each time you see a negative story – like the report of a robbery, a huge traffic jam, or an employee layoff – think about ways these events could have been anticipated or avoided.

The Progressive Pessimist should believe that the road to success is protected on both sides by the Fear of Failure Fence.

Rix Quinn wrote the book “Words That Stick. ” It’s available at

His new book Progressive Pessimism is nearly finished.


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