In his classic book, "Think And Grow Rich", best-selling author Napoleon Hill tells the story of a man who put everything he had into the search for oil, but every shaft he sank stayed dry. Eventually, after many unsuccessful tries, and with his funding and his patience both exhausted, he gave up, and to cut his losses sold the land and the equipment to a rival.

The second would-be millionnaire had done his homework well. He'd surveyed the land with care, as well as learning from the other man's mistakes, and at his very first attempt, he struck black gold. His oil well made a fortune - just three feet beyond the first man's final try.

Recently I watched a TV program about the sister of the British Queen. Apparently Princess Margaret, as a girl, had been in love with a former fighter pilot and war hero, Group Captain Peter Townsend. The couple planned to marry - but there was a problem. Peter Townsend was divorced, and at that time it was considered unacceptable for the Queen's sister to marry a divorced man.

The Prime Minister and the politicians insisted that this could not happen. The Princess was given a stark choice. She could give up her place in the Royal Family, her income of £6,000 a year (about 11,000 dollars - a lot of money at the time), the palace the she lived in, her servants, her title and the whole nine yards - or she could give up Peter Townsend.

Eventually, she was persuaded that it was her duty to renounce the man she loved. (She later married someone else - and, ironically, her own marriage ended in divorce.)

Although the Princess believed that she faced with opposition it would be impossible to overcome, that wasn't actually the case. Government papers from the time which have only now been made public show that, unknown to the Princess, the politicians had given up the fight.

Faced with the overwhelming support of the public for the marriage, the Government had secretly agreed that if, as they expected, the Princess insisted on marrying the man she loved, they would allow her to keep her status in the Royal Family, and actually raise her income to £15,000 a year (29,000 dollars - a LOT of money at the time!).

The Princess had no idea how close she came to victory. If she'd just stood firm, she would have had it all. The Government had even set the date for making the announcement - but they never had to make it. Just three days before the news was to be made public, the Princess called off her engagement.

One story from the 19th Century, and one from the 20th - but their message is as timeless as it's universal.

If you have a dream, hold on to it. The only certain way to fail is to give in. You're never beaten till you say you are - and if you NEVER say you are, you're never beaten.

You never know how close you are to victory. Success might be three days away - or just three feet.

Author's Bio: 

Aislinn O'Connor is a self-development consultant who runs http://www.subliminal-self-development.com. You can download a sample of her new book, "50 Simple Shortcuts To A Sparkling, Successful YOU", from http://www.seahawk-publishing.com