From Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur's Soul

Nitty-Gritty Reasons

I was a young father struggling to make ends meet and find what I really wanted to do with my life the day the life-changing knock on my front door came. It was a timid little knock, and when I opened the door, I looked down at a little girl with big, brown eyes staring up at me.

“Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies, Mister?”

She made a masterful presentation—there were several flavors, a special deal, and best of all, they were only two dollars a box. How could anyone refuse? With a big smile, she ever so politely asked me to buy a box of cookies. Her presentation, combined with her smile and pleading eyes, instinctively made me want to say yes. Except for one problem: I didn’t have two dollars!

Now, if you’re a husband and a father, about twenty-five years old and working as hard as you know how, but you don’t have two dollars, it’s probably fair to say that you have a problem. And I had a big problem. Pride kept me from telling the little girl with the big brown eyes the truth. So I did the next thing I thought of. I lied to her.

“Thanks, but I’ve already bought Girl Scout cookies this year,” I said. “And I’ve still got plenty stacked in the house.” My answer got me off the hook, except for the disappointment showing in the little girl’s eyes as she thanked me, turned and walked away.

I closed the door and stood alone, thinking about what I had just done. It was difficult for me to tell which was worse: telling a lie or the embarrassment of not having two dollars. I will never forget how pitiful I felt that day.

I don’t want to live like this, I said to myself. I’ve had it with being broke. I’ve had it with lying, making excuses and not having two dollars in my pocket. I’ve had it!

It was one of those moments that determine the course of a life for years to come. That day, I discovered that, with strong enough emotional reasons, I could do incredible things. That single, embarrassing moment with the little Girl Scout standing at my door is what I call a “nitty-gritty reason,” something that had the power to change my life.

My Girl Scout story does have a happy ending. Several years later, I was living in Beverly Hills, California. One day, I had just come out of a bank, happy with the deposits I had just made, when I saw two young girls selling candy in front of a nearby grocery store. One of the little girls caught my eye. “Mister, would you like to buy some candy?” she asked.

“Well, maybe I would,” I said, returning her smile. “What kind of candy do you have?”

“It’s Almond Roca, and it’s really good,” she assured me.

“Almond Roca? That’s my favorite! How much is it?”

“It’s only two dollars.”

Two dollars! It couldn’t be! Immediately, I thought of the other little girl who had tried to sell me her two-dollar cookies. I was excited. “How many boxes of candy do you have?”

“I’ve got five.”

Looking at her friend, I asked, “And how many boxes do you have?”

“I’ve got four.”

“That’s nine boxes. I tell you what: I’ll take them all.”

At this, both girls’ mouths fell open as they exclaimed in unison, “Really?”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ve got some friends I can share them with.”

They scurried to stack all the boxes together. I reached into my pocket, counted out eighteen dollars and handed them the money. As I was about to leave, the boxes tucked under my arm, one of the girls looked up and said, “Mister, you’re really something!”

I had only spent eighteen dollars, but that little girl thought I was really something. What a feeling!

As you might guess, the issue for me wasn’t the money or the words of admiration and gratitude the little girl spoke to me. The real issue was the changes I made years earlier because of another little girl, and the pain and frustration I felt because of the lack in my life. Today, I make sure I always carry extra pocket money, just in case I meet another little Girl Scout, or any other similar event that will fan the fire of desire within me—and remind me of a nitty-gritty reason that pushed me to begin a journey to a new life.

Jim Rohn

[EDITORS’ NOTE: During the past four decades, Jim Rohn has shared his success philosophies and principles with more than 6,000 audiences and 4 million people worldwide. As the author of over twenty-five books and audio and video programs, and a past recipient of the Masters of Influence Award from the National Speakers Association, he has trained hundreds of executives from America’s top corporations. Rohn has been described as everything from a master motivator to one of the most profound thinkers and mind-expanding individuals of our time. Visit to learn more.]

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