The Thought for the Day – William C Van Horne

Nothing is too small to know, and nothing is too big to attempt. – William C Van Horne


William Cornelius Van Horne was an American/Canadian railroad executive. He was born in America, but ended up settling in Montreal. Born in Illinois, he worked on railroads as a kid and studied law at Union College in New York. He then took his family west to do some farming, but fire destroyed his house and barns, not to mention his personal and professional library. Then his first wife dies. He returned to the Midwest and, among other things, ultimately ended up running the Canadian Pacific Railway.

We’re fairly well read here, but, frankly. we’re not all that familiar with Canadian railway history and we had never heard of Mr Van Horne until a few hours before we wrote this, coming across today’s Thought on an Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar.

Nothing is too small to know…

All knowledge is good, regardless of whether it’s professional knowledge gained at a university or a seemingly useless tidbit found out while talking to your neighbor about your artichoke plant. Everything is grist for the mill and we should always be open to whatever lessons life is willing to show us.

For our part, we have vast reservoir of what might charitably be referred to as “trivia” but what some might consider “useless knowledge”. Our favorite example being that the oldest record in the baseball record book comes from April 29, 1876 – the earliest days of the National League – when first baseman John Carbine of Louisville made five errors in a game a mark that has been tied but never broken.  

…nothing is too big to attempt.

Whether it’s building a railway across a country or building a life, we should not be afraid to dream big or to attempt big things. Nothing gets accomplished by accident and as we like to say here at The Thought for the Day nobody climbs Mount Everest while wandering around the Gobi Desert.

Climbing your personal Mount Everest isn’t easy. First, you must find out what your personal Everest is. Everyone’s is different. Then you must have the wisdom to come up with a plan and then muster the courage to go and execute that plan and then find the patience to endure the inevitable reverses that will come your way.

None of these elements are easy, but that is how things get accomplished be they national railroads or well-lived lives. We cannot be afraid to attempt big things.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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