Take a chance

The words, “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” makes you want to sing Take It Easy.

Take a chance

When Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey wrote the song the point they tried to make was despite troubles, one should ‘take it easy.’ The Eagles made it the opening track on the debut album and it is one of their signature songs.

Those words, “Take it easy” is so ingrained in our culture nearly everyone says it when they walk away from someone. For those inclined to achieving success the saying should be, “Take a chance.”

The little whistle stop of a town that became the subject of the song was built by men who were no strangers to chance. It is a story that could be an episode in the hit AMC TV series, Hell on Wheels. The namesake of the real town, Edward Francis Winslow had been a Calvary Captain in the Union Army. After the war he began his longtime career in the railroad industry as a conductor and by taking chances he rose to become a very successful railroad executive and they named the town after him. Winslow Arizona became important in the days of the wood burning steam locomotives. Trains wood stop for water and fuel and passengers could take it easy at La Posada, the last great railroad hotel. As chance has it, the big diesels put the steam engine out of business and Winslow slowed down. That is until 1926 when Route 66 roared through the city making it a popular stop once again. US 66, the Mother Road, was the path for all that migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The road paid off. People doing business along the route became prosperous. People got their kicks on Route 66 up to the time when chance made the new Interstate 40 shoot by whisking potential visitors past the small town. Main Street of America slowed down to take it easy.

If we are to learn anything from people like Edward Winslow, it is the take a chance attitude to success. Hard times come and go. This is the same lesson taught by Earl Nightingale. He wrote, “Quality can make work worth doing.”

That may be lost in today’s vocabulary where so many are only interested in what’s in it for me and let the other person do all the heavy lifting. Earl goes on to say, “In business, the constant never ending search for quality should be paramount. Any person that produces less than the very best is cheating.”

In this one of thousands of Earl’s daily radio messages he referred to Earnest Hemingway’s book, A Moveable Feast, where Hemingway wrote in his small apartment he and his wife could barely afford. He explained how he would work and labor and sometimes spending an entire morning on one paragraph only to throw it away if it did not meet his standards of quality writing.

Earl summarized in this recording that every year businesses fail and hundreds of thousands lose their jobs because they tried to get more for less. He lamented that the time when people encouraged one another to work hard, they now say, “Take it easy.”


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

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