Pluck, Not Luck!

by Bill Mansell on January 10, 2012 | One Minute Motivators

James was born in 1875 on a small farm in Missouri, the seventh of twelve children in a poor family. His father was a minister, and the children were taught hard work, honesty, self-reliance, and discipline. Although he worked hard on the farm, and studied in school, James had every reason to believe that his opportunities were limited. When he was 20, his father died and James began working as a salesman at the local dry goods store in Hamilton. Times were difficult and the other salesmen were often cruel to him. But he persevered.

When he was 22, James moved to Denver where he purchased a butcher shop. He was determined to treat each customer fairly. When he refused to give special treatment to a powerful few, they retaliated and his business failed. Undeterred, he went to work at another dry goods store, called the Golden Rule store. Soon he was a partner and, in 1902, opened his own Golden Rule store in Wyoming. It was a small, one-room store with the family’s living quarters in the attic. James offered fair prices and great service to everyone, which made the store successful. In 10 years, there were thirty-four Golden Rule stores throughout the west.

Personal tragedy struck James in 1910 when his wife died of pneumonia, leaving him with two sons. At the time, he wrote that his “world crashed” around him. He married again 9 years later, only to have his second wife pass away after only four years, leaving him with another son. In spite of these personal setbacks, James was determined to carry on.

James bought out his partners and renamed the Golden Rule stores after himself. He hired and trained “associates” whom he developed into successful manager-partners. Each manager, was to then findĀ  another honest, hardworking person and train them to manage another store. Using this formula, the company thrived. By 1924, there were 500 stores, and by 1929, 1400 JC Penneys stores were in operation.

The stock market crash of 1929 left James in personal financial ruin, but he was determined to keep his stores alive. He borrowed against his life insurance policies to help the company meet payroll and successfully survive the great depression. In 1946, with his business on solid footing, James retired from day-to-day management of the company, but continued to be active and involved, going to his office daily until well into his 90’s.

At the age of 92, James was asked by a newspaper reporter the secret to his success. “I don’t believe in luck,” he said, “Put a P in front of it!” Pluck means living with courage and resolution. It means refusing to give up. It means believing in yourself and your vision in spite of opposition or adversity. “My eyesight is impaired…” he continued, “but my vision is stronger than ever.”

Success Tip: Next time you feel that adversity has beaten you down, think of James Cash Penney. Don’t worry about luck, just put a P in front of it and forge ahead.

Bill Mansell is president of MindPerk, Inc., one of the web's largest resources for self improvement and business training. A dynamic speaker and success coach, Bill is the author of a weekly blog titled, One Minute Motivators. Bill helps companies and organizations inspire and motivate their team members to consistently achieve more. His contagious enthusiasm has helped people from all walks of life to reach and exceed their goals.

has 149 articles on MindPerk.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty January 13, 2012

My son is going through a hard time. He hasn’t been able to find work and decided to go back to school. It hasn’t been easy for him or his family. His wife is putting him through school in order for our son to get a good paying job. My husband and I help as much as we can by sending care packages of food and baby sitting his four children while he is at school and his wife at work. There are times my son is tempted to forget his school and get any kind of job. He doesn’t complain, but I can see his frustration. I often tell him to hang in there because I know he will get a good job when he finishes his education. I am going to send him this article and hoping he can see how hard it was for Mr. Penny and not once did he give up.
Thank you for send me the story,


Samantha January 11, 2012

You’re right on! I’ll try to show more Pluck every day.


Lee January 11, 2012

I would say that anyone who has read any of the many self help books on the market is familiar with those famous words “never give up, persevere, believe in yourself “, etc, etc. Easy words to voice, difficult to execute. I have been tying to get my photo services going for the longest time with little luck, but it is what I truly love to do and won’t give up. These motivational stories remind me to keep the faith.


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