Desire Drives Dedication, Determination by Harvey MacKay*

A young college graduate, determined to find a position with a reputable company, began seeking interviews. Although she faced continual rejection, her persevering talent kept her goals in mind. One busy personnel manager, flooded with applications, suggested the hopeful applicant check back in 10 years.

“No problem,” said the young woman. “Would a morning or afternoon interview work best for you?”

This young woman had what I call the three Ds – desire, determination and dedication. Desire is sometimes more important than talent. She knew what she wanted and was not going to get sidetracked. Desire, determination and dedication are necessary to keep your mind focused on reaching your goals. People with desire work harder, are obsessed with their goals and are driven by an intense thirst to be better. There are few shortcuts in life.

Only the truly dedicated people ever come close to attaining their goals. They won’t let anyone, or anything interfere with what they truly desire. Success starts with the desire to achieve something.

“To win, you have to have the talent and desire – but desire is first,” said golfing legend Sam Snead. Along with Snead, I had the privilege of playing in the St. Paul Open tournament back when I was playing college golf for the University of Minnesota.

Another golfing legend that played in the same tournament, Gary Player, said: “To succeed in life one must have determination and must be prepared to suffer during the process. If one isn’t prepared to suffer during adversities, I don’t really see how he (or she) can be successful.”

It is important to realize that not only must you know what you want, but you must really want what you want, if you are to get what you want.

Desire alone is not enough. To lack desire means to lack a key ingredient to success. Many a talented individual failed because they lacked desire. Many victories have been snatched by the underdog because he or she wanted it more. So, if you desire intensely and you act upon it, then everything stands within your reach. Dedication is the key that unlocks doors to great opportunities.

I like to say, if you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view. In most cases, IQ is less important to a person’s education than I will.

Baseball great Willie Mays said: “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without a total 100 percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”

Katharine Hepburn, the only actor to win four Academy Awards for Best Actress, always wanted to be a movie star, although the road to her dream was filled with obstacles. She was fired from several stage roles, criticized for talking too fast and having a raspy voice, considered ornery and difficult to work with and being judged too skinny and masculine.

Undeterred by an insulting press, she sought the help of a voice and drama coach who tutored her through several theater roles until she received great reviews, which led to a movie contract and stardom.

Civil rights leader Vernon Jordan said people constantly advised him to lower his sights, but he said, “The more people tried to discourage me, the more determined I got.” Fortunately for determined people like Vernon Jordan and Katharine Hepburn, discouragement spurred them on to greater things. They, like other determined people, possessed the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule and unfavorable circumstances.

Astronaut Scott Carpenter was constantly in trouble as a young boy. While recuperating after a near fatal car accident, he dedicated himself to turning his life around and later became the second American to orbit the earth.

You may never be an award-winning actress, an astronaut, a civic leader or a sports icon, but you can succeed at your dream if you follow their examples and never give up.  

At 211 degrees, water is hot. One slight change – one more degree – and it boils, changing into steam. And steam can power a locomotive. That minor change of one more degree makes all the difference. That one extra degree in business and in life separates the good from the great. It’s your life. You are responsible for your results. Never be afraid to turn up the heat.   

Mackay’s Moral: The best angle to approach a problem is the try-angle.

*Posted online 12.22.22 by Harvey Mackay Academy, LLC 2100 Elm St. SE Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414


Dedication and Determination are two components of the same tool. You need both and the lever to active them is you are self-starter. I like his point that is not one’s education but their “I will.”

When one has Christ in their life, he or she also has purpose, vision and a life mission. That spiritual component can give one the intrinstic, Spirit-led drive or “self-starter” motivation, to push through (dedication and determination) and to pursue one’s unique, God-shaped calling.

What about you?

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