Legend of Ivan O’Malley

Team AO,

As the New Year approaches, I am reminded of a powerful story told several years ago by LIFE founders Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady.  I believe in this little story we all can find the will power to do more for our dreams in the upcoming year…

Long ago there lived a very poor peasant in Ireland named Ivan O’Malley. During the great famine Ivan struggled to find food and shelter for daily living.  Like many others, Ivan struggled to maintain hope, and life was a constant struggle for basic necessities.  One day Ivan received a telegram from his long lost sweetheart Clementine.  Sweet Clementine and her family had left Ireland four years earlier headed for the United States.  Ivan had long given up hope of ever hearing from his only true love again, so the telegram gave him goose bumps as he began to read its contents.  Clementine’s love for Ivan had never wavered, and she reassured him that she had been saving herself just for him. As it turns out Clementine’s family inherited a tobacco farm in North Carolina, and they had become very well off.  Clementine’s father had secured a prominent ownership position in the business for Ivan, and vowed to his daughter that he would leave everything to her and her husband to be…Ivan!

To prove his worth of such a blessing; Clementine’s father required that Ivan secure his own way to North Carolina and the fortune that awaited him.  Upon arrival everything would be turned over to Ivan and the fortune would be his.  Filled with renewed energy! All of his wildest dreams were finally coming true… His first and only love, fortune, freedom, and comfort awaited him on the shores of North Carolina. All Ivan had to do was to find sea passage across the Atlantic and his dreams would be there waiting. For weeks Ivan tried to find odds jobs to earn money for the voyage, but the famine had dashed hopes of earning any money.  Ivan could not get anyone to lend him the money because his story was so unbelievable.  Finally, after weeks of searching for a ship down at the docks, Ivan found a small sea-faring vessel headed for North Carolina for trading. The captain assigned him to work in the bilge area of the ship as a manual pump operator with one assignment; keep the bilge area free of the foul smelling and dangerous water that could accumulate and sink the entire ship. The stench alone could be unbearable, let alone having to manually operate the pump for 8 hours a day was exhausting. But Ivan was bound and determined that he could endure 30 days of hardships, knowing that Clemntine and a dream lifestyle awaited him in America.

As the ship began the voyage the weather was beautiful, and not much water accumulated in the bilge, so Ivan  only pumped two or so hours a day and relaxed the remainder of each day away with dreams of wealth and affluence.  Five days into the journey the ship began to encounter rough seas, and the bilge began to fill a lot faster, but Ivan being content in his belief that better waters lie ahead would only pump two or so hours a day.  For the next few days the water rose a few inches more around Ivan’s feet, but he continued to only pump two hours, filling the rest of each day with dreams of sweet Clementine and the riches they would enjoy together.  Ten days at sea the commander of the ship noticed the the ship submerging deeper into the the waters,  and demanded that the lazy Ivan quit day-dreaming and start pumping! Ivan out of spite, with water up to his knees began to only pump just enough so that the officer would not notice the submerging.  Half way through the trek, the water was at Ivan’s waist, but he figured that three hours of pumping a day would keep the water at that level, so he pumped his three hours and dreamed of his marriage and horses, and large spacious home in America. Twenty-one days at sea, the situation was critical…The bilge was filled with water up to Ivan’s chest, and he worked frantically all day just to keep from drowning.  Lucky for him the Captain and the ships officers were to prestigious to visit the filthy bilge area. On Day 24, just six days from his destination, Ivan now having pumped himself into exhaustion could no longer endure. The water was increasing at a clip that he nor anyone else could match.  Panic filled the ship as she began to sink into the cold Atlantic waters.  Abandon ship…abandon ship the officers yelled as the life boats began to fill. Ivan being the last up from the bilge found himself and a few feeble men left alone on a sinking ship just a few days away from all of his dreams. As the ship sank, Ivan incessantly cursed God for his cruelty! How could God allow him to get his hopes up enough to believe that a poor man from Ireland could make it big.  After hours in the cold waters of the Sea, Ivan began to feel his energy and life slipping away.  In his last solemn moments his realized that there was no one else left to blame but himself. His procrastination and propensity to do  just enough to get by had cost him literally everything. If only he would have just pumped 8 hours a day…everyday!

This little legendary tale of lost opportunity represents the fate of many people in our business today.  They start with the highest of hopes, and persevere enough to get started on the journey toward all of their ultimate dreams and goals.  Along the way it seems easy, but storms arise and some will stop reading, stop listening and eventually stop attending the open meetings.  People fall into the trap of appearing to do the work as opposed to actually doing the little bit each day to assure survival.  It’s great to dream big dreams and our minds need to picture our ultimate success, but a dream without sacrificial work  is only a fantasy.  The lessons do not begin and end with Ivan. We, like the men on the boat, have a TEAM approach.  Driving our ship 10 deep every 30 days, keeps everyone alive and well. The Captain and officers failed in their responsibilities to pump as well.  They were unwilling to get dirty and do the work necessary to save the ship. Leadership on this team is more about the sacrificial work of GO-GETTER than anything else.  Showing this idea 4 times a week is like pumping that bilge eight hours a day. It is the amount of energy necessary to keep your our ships on the water.  Each week without go-getter activity ensures that our ship will start to slow down and eventually sink.

Team AO expect your leaders to keep the activity high, and in 2012 we are going to start recognizing all of the Go-getters for each week.  For anyone that shows 4-plans, from Sunday through Sunday, we will be prominently displaying their name on the AO blog for that week.  So starting this Sunday please send me your name if you pumped your bilge at least four times this week! Let go get our dreams!


  1. Thanks for the reminder in this story, It gave a great example for consistancy in the Game of Life. Walk a mile see a mile

  2. Raymond, great blog. It’s the same concept of the 20 mile march. We must do the work to achieve the results. We did not get our four plans this week, but we will do the work from this point forward. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa.Oooooooooooo.

  3. Raymond, this article is one of your greatest analogies of work ethic whether is is applied to our business or life in general. I have been with Team and I see the commitment level of many of our great leaders, however I personally still waver in the face of commitment for a few reasons that I won’t disclose here.Even so, I do have a great outlook on my future. I believe in my heart that this is the business that will take me to my destination. I wish AOJ1, a Prosperous, Adventurous, and Fullfilling 2012 and beyond! See you at the top!

  4. Excellent post Raymond!

    I too remember this CD and again am reminded of the Slight Edge principle; easy to do easy not to do. Yet, I know that the many leaders of AOJ1 are committed to their dreams, understand the need in our families, communities and country for what Team and Life offer so we will be found “clearing out the bilge” on a daily basis.

    I am so proud to be associated with this group and know that the battle is won in our minds so let us be diligent in feeding it LIFE statements.

    2012, The Year to Excel!


  5. Agreed. This posting is wonderful. Eye opener. I believe God placed this opportunity of LIFE in my life to learn, grow and extend help to others. I know the passion that you and Tina have for AOJ1, I can feel that passion and that is the passion I want to have and share with others for I know that this is real. Go Team AOJ1 and God Bless us all.

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