Prime the pump

There are many success principles that, at first glance, seem to go against logic and common sense.  

Recently, I was reading about one of the few water wells in the middle of an expansive desert.  For travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries, finding this single water well in the crossing of this desert was a matter of life and death.  Many a weary pioneer came upon this water well when they were within a few hours of dying of thirst.  
The well was a pipe protruding from the ground with a pump on top of it.  There was a sign with some very brief instructions.  First, it indicated that anyone wanting a drink of water should dig a few feet into the sand and locate the buried water jug.  Next, was the critical instruction which called on a weary traveler dying of thirst to not drink the water from the jug they held in their hands but, instead, to pour the water from the jug down the well in order to prime the pump.  Then the third and final instruction was to refill the jug and bury it for the next traveler.

Our first reaction when dying of thirst and digging up a jug of water would be to drink from the jug; however, if pioneers had done that, neither they, nor any other travelers coming after them, could have ever gotten water from the well.  Only by using the resources they had to prime the pump could they get a virtually unlimited supply of water.  

I remember, as a young boy, spending time with my grandfather while he was working in his garden.  On one particular day, we picked the first ears of corn from that particular season.  I asked if we could have corn for dinner that night, and he told me, “No, there wouldn’t be enough because we need to keep the first corn set back to plant as seed for the next year.”  I remember him telling me, “If you eat your seed corn, you can only eat for a day, but if you always save some seed for next year, you never run out of corn.”

Whether it’s corn, drinking water, or any other resource we need in our life, often the first course of action to get what we want is to give up something we have.  We’ve always got to be ready to ask the question, “What will make me happy in five years or 10 years?”—not simply “What will make me happy at this moment?”

For a person dying of thirst to pour all the water in a jug down a well takes a certain amount of faith and discipline.  These are key ingredients of any enduring success.  

As you go through your day today, commit to enjoying long-term success by making short-term sacrifices.

Today’s the day!

About the author:  Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; or on Facebook at