Christopher Morley has said, “There are three ingredients in
the good life: learning, earning and yearning.” And yearning
can make up for a great lack in the other two.
In Daniel Steele’s book, I Am, I Can (Fleming H. Revell Co.,
1973), the author tells a heart-warming story about the
power of yearning. He tells that Columbia University
football coach Lou Little was stopped on campus and informed
of the unexpected death of the father of one of his players.
He agreed to break the news to the student, as he knew that
the young man and his father were quite close.
Two days after he went home to attend the funeral, the
student returned to campus and was back on the practice
field. “What are you doing back so soon?” asked the coach.
“You could have taken a week or two… we would have
“Coach,” the young man said, “my father was buried
yesterday, and the rest of the family is taking care of
things. Coach Little, I’ve just got to play in that game
tomorrow. That’s why I came back today.”
The coach reminded him that tomorrow’s game was a critical
game and he might not play at all since he wasn’t a usual
But the student pressed, “I know I haven’t played much,
Coach, but I’m asking you for a chance to play tomorrow.
I’ve just got to play in that game.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Coach Little said, “Okay, son,
tell you what. If we win the toss, I’ll let you play on the
receiving team, but I can’t promise you more than that.”
The next day Columbia did win the toss. That young man went
into the game and played like he had never played before. In
fact, he was playing so well that Lou Little decided to
leave him in longer. He had an outstanding day and, largely
because of his effort, Columbia won the game.
In the locker room, the coach asked the student, “What in
the world happened to you out there? You never played ball
like that in your whole life. That’s the best exhibition of
football I ever saw. How in the world did you do it?”
“Well, Coach,” the exhausted and exhilarated young man said,
“you never met my father, did you?”
“No, I didn’t.” Little replied. “I knew you were very close
to your father, and I saw you walking arm in arm across the
campus on several occasions, but I never met him.”
“Well, you see,” the student said, searching for the right
words, “for most of my life my father was blind — and today
was the first day he was able to watch me play.”
There are few qualities more vital than a strong yearning to
do or be something. Earning and learning help, but your
desire, your yearning, will take you over the top.
An admirer once exclaimed to President Theodore Roosevelt,
“Mr. Roosevelt, you are a great man!”
“No,” he replied, “Teddy Roosevelt is simply a plain,
ordinary man — highly motivated.” It was his yearning that
set him apart.
by Steve Goodier