The True Secret to Success

Thinking Outside the Box

As online marketers (and humans), we are often presented with what feels like impossible problems or tasks.  Maybe it’s a family problem, such as dealing with an elderly parent, or a business problem, such as trying to discover a way to drive traffic to your website.  Whatever the case may be, these problems often appear larger than life, and the solutions seem unattainable.

Even if a solution is attainable, it may not be ideal.  It might be full of compromises, hiccups and backtracks.  This is everything we don’t want out of a decision, and yet we make these types of decisions every day.


I recently emailed my subscribers with a slideshow presentation on this very topic.  Throughout the presentation, a daughter is faced with an impossible decision, and her father’s fate is dependent on that decision.

If you have not seen the presentation, I encourage you to watch it above, and for those of you who haven’t watched it, I’m going to provide you with a basic overview.

The True Secret to Success – The Presentation

A man owes a lender money that he can’t pay.  He has two options.  He can go to debtor’s prison, where he’ll likely squander away, or he can allow the lender to marry his daughter.


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The daughter doesn’t want to marry the lender, but the father cannot pay the money.  The lender comes up with a solution.  He’ll put one white pebble and one black pebble into a bag.  If the girl draws a black pebble, she’ll marry the lender and free her father.  If she draws a white pebble, both she and her father will be free.  That, of course, would be the ideal outcome!

The lender reaches down to the pebble-filled ground and picks up two rocks.  The girl notices that both pebbles are black, meaning the lender cheated!  No matter which pebble she draws, she’ll have to marry the lender.

Now, she’s faced with what seems like an impossible problem.  Initially, it appears that she has three options.

  • First, she could call the lender out for cheating, but that won’t solve the problem.  Her father will surely go to debtor’s prison.
  • Second, she could refuse to draw a rock, but that won’t solve the problem either.  If she doesn’t draw a pebble, her father will have to go to prison.
  • Third, she could go ahead and draw the rock, free her father and marry the man.  Again, this is not something that she wants to do.


Instead of going with one of the obvious options, she thinks outside of the box and comes up with a great solution.  She draws a pebble and drops it onto the ground.  It mixes with the other pebbles, so no one knows which pebble she drew. 

The lender has a black rock left in his bag, so he has to either admit that he cheated or claim that the girl drew a white pebble.  He, of course, claims that the girl drew a white pebble, and thus frees the girl and her father. 

We can learn so much as humans and marketers from this story.

First, we have to look at problems from all angles.  The obvious answers are rarely the right answers.  We can’t just look to the road most traveled when searching for solutions.  We must look at every angle, and use the solution that works best for our particular problems.  It might be a solution that has never been used before, but we have to move forward without fear.  Just like the girl thought outside of the box and freed her father, we have to think outside of the box and free ourselves.


Second, we can find solutions that don’t require compromise.  In the beginning of the story, it appeared as if the girl would have to compromise in order to move forward, but she quickly proved that wrong.  You don’t have to compromise, but you do have to be able to acclimate yourself to new situations quickly.  Click Here to Tweet this post.

Third, we cannot let other people’s behaviors impact our outcomes in a negative way.  Instead of letting other people hold us back, we need to find a way to rise up above them.  Just as the girl didn’t let a cheating lender take her father, we must not let business associates, customers, family or friends hold us back.  We must do what is right for us, despite what others say.  There will be people who try to derail us, but we have to power forward and keep our eyes on the prize!

My Challenge to You

I’m urging my readers to think outside of the box.  Instead of going with what seems like the obvious solution, try something different in both your personal and professional lives.  Don’t look for the easy or familiar solution.  Look at the situation with clear eyes, and make a calculated move.

When you find a way to turn the impossible into the possible, you’ll find the road to success.  Each road is different, but one thing remains the same.  The true road to success is located on the path less traveled, so you have to think outside of the box to get there.

See another valuable post called Revisiting the Four Keys to Success

*Note:  One of my subscribers complained after I sent that first email of appreciation, saying:  “I need money, not pictures!”  While I can empathize with her situation, sadly she missed the entire meaning behind it.  Maybe she’ll read this post and open her mind – here’s hopin’!  I hope to have encouraged you today.  

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Take Care,
Carol Amato

Internet Marketer - Coach with Heart
Click here to never miss a post - connect with Carol Amato
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  • Linda

    What a beautiful illustration and reminder.

    • Carol Amato

      So glad you enjoyed it, Linda! Have a great weekend.
      :) – Carol

  • Wilson lau

    Thanks for sharing!there are a lot of ways to solve problems.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Wilson,

      There sure are! When backed up against a wall, it usually requires thinking outside the box. Developing the right mindset it critical to success.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend. :)
      – Carol

      • Charles Mohr


        This is a prime example of “thinking out of the box”. Re-vitalize an old blog post.

        Or the thinkees out smarting the thinkers!

        Let’s assume the link above was intentional which is true. Closely examine the URL. Its a tracking code.

        The Blog Post “Today” in difference to when it was originally posted:

        Wilson lau Says:
        February 11, 2012 at 4:59 am

        A) White Stone: It now points to an 404 error page! What do we know about 404 error marketing? If you don’t know you should! I believe Carol has a program, I could be wrong. Point we are making here is…if you click on the “powered by..blah blah..” where does it take you?

        B) Black Stone: Error on Wilsons Part by not having his domain pointing to his blog that may be crashed, under construction, or is no longer a marketer or..or ..or…

        The reason for this response is to show real time how blogs post that are being re-vitalized can be re-capitalized.

        White Stone: Change that link! But do not remove the Post, it has already been indexed.

        Black Stone: Leave it and deal with a broken link on your website.

        I have a black belt in Origami, When creating a paper box, each fold is part of the process in creating the final form. A beautiful paper box.
        To think outside the box is escaping the process. Creating the box is the process. Do the same when building campaigns.

        Master Black Belt in Origami..LOL
        “I humbly Bow to you all”

        • Carol Amato

          Hi Charles,

          What a beautiful analogy of the principles involved! Love your perspective and thanks for sharing these words of wisdom!

          Ideas that we all need to implement…

          Have a blessed day. :)

          Carol Amato

  • Ruth

    I loved the imagery. That just emphasizes the message. The pictures open the mind by calming the mind and I can “wander” into a different way of thinking. Or not thinking. I find my self just “being” and that frees my mind to come up with something other than the clatter created by all the marketers hammering at me from the outside. I envision all these little people banging on my door, wanting in, wanting me to “buy from me and get rich by next Thursday” only I can’t hear them…I am listening to the waterfalls (from the pictures, I am listening to nature’s soothing sounds, and I can allow my sub-conscious to focus on nothing and everything); eventually I think of something so simple it just sailed right on by me and got lost. The sub-conscious losing nothing. Thanks, Carol. This presentation was superb.

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Ruth,

      Yes, it was very well done, and you are very observant about the way they accomplished getting the moral of the story across…
      You’re welcome, I always try to share what encourages me and what has value. Have a blessed weekend. :)
      – Carol

  • Bruce

    Life is full of choices, so making the right choice can be very tricky. Before things get to looking like it is going to fail,which is from a “fear” based reasoning thought, first ask yourself can this be done? Answer is Yes! When reasoning becomes to complex for us to think straight-turn toward God for the answer. He knows all, reasons all, and normally can give you the correct answer to pick. But, we have to be open and listen for His inner voice. There is no “Fear”, no “If’s”, no “What If’s” and No “buts”, just positive reasoning that only can come from Him. Don’t ever run from a problem, think and reason thru it. “Our God can supply All our needs thru His Riches and Glory in Christ Jesus”. You will be amazed what you can accomplish just by asking Him. Peace and Blessing’s to All.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Bruce,

      That’s a beautiful way of approaching problems – awesome!! :) Thanks for coming by to share your thoughts – much appreciated.
      Have a great day.
      – Carol

    • Donna

      Bruce, so so true. God is there for us. I did much talking to them in deciding to take this journey and asked for a flower as a sign and did I get one? I sure did, but it took me a while to figure out what it meant and I was holding it in my hand after finding it in a pocket of a jacket I had not worn in over a year. It was the most unusual key with flowers & a big K on the back it said Be Happy. The K, what did that stand for. It hit me then after a couple of days of pondering. This was God giving me the K (ey) of success. I haven’t become successful as of yet, still plugging away. If I can start achieving like Carol has will be super. Best to you.

      • Carol Amato


        So glad you got confirmation that this is what you’re supposed to do, great! If you get started, work hard and don’t quit, you are sure to succeed! :)
        Thanks for your comment,
        – Carol

  • Lisa

    Just loved your story, your encouragement and your challenge! Thanks so much, Carol!

    • Carol Amato

      You’re welcome, Lisa – so glad you enjoyed it. :)
      Have a blessed weekend.
      – Carol

  • Clara Leake

    It’s amazing how two or more people can see the same thing and one or two of them miss the whole point of the story. Glad you’re a positive thinker. Maybe she’ll get the point and maybe she won’t. If she doesn’t it’s her loss not yours. Thanks for sharing the story again.

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Clara,

      Yeah, I REALLY hope she opens her mind and her heart, but ya never know…
      Thanks for stopping by. :)
      – Carol

  • Thomas

    Hi Carol,
    I just Love your story, I get the meaning of it too. I try to use other words to help me think out side the box too, if I have difficulty or some other situation, I look for words to put positive to it. So I will look out side the box for some answer to a situation inside the box,
    I don’t want to reinvent the wheel I just want a better wheel to make my car go faster!!

    I want to Thank you foe All your advice, I will keep in touch!!
    Tom H.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Tom,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and appreciated the purpose. :) That’s the approach to have! Having the right mindset is so important to making progress and achieving success. You’re welcome for the advice. Yes, please do keep me posted.
      Have a great weekend. :)
      – Carol

  • Fred E. Thompson Jr.

    Hello Carol
    I thin I have a sort of advantage because I was born out of the box, I found all of the info. very informative and it contained a great deal of food for thought. Thank you for all of your hard work to keep us informed with diffrent points of view.
    Fred & Hyunsou

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Fred and Hyunsou,

      I like that – you were born out of the box! haha :) So glad you enjoyed it, as did I…great food for thought and a good reminder that when we get in a tough situation, there is always hope. Thanks for coming by to share, and you’re welcome – I enjoy what I do!

      Have an awesome weekend.
      – Carol

  • Tony Anello

    Carol….I wiould be happy to do more than just a tweet but I don’t know how!!!???

    If you could give me instructions I will be happy to send out a tweet.

    I would love to get your book on List building basics and will start ordering some
    of your other stuff as soon as i get organized.

    Thanks, It looks like you are doing a great job with the internet.

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Tony,

      You would just click on the sharing little icons below the blog post, the facebook like, the tweet and when you do, a box will pop up prompting you to sign into your twitter or whatever, just follow the prompts to share accordingly. :)

      You can click on my List Building Basics eBook on the right side and you can “pay with a tweet”… get it for following the prompts and tweeting it on twitter….simple, just follow the instructions after you click.

      Yep, I sure do enjoy what I’m doing. :)
      Have a blessed weekend.
      – Carol

  • Elizabeth

    Hola Carol:

    I, too, enjoyed the images and stories! I was in awe by the whole thing.

    Personally, I try to live my life with a positive mental attitude ESPECIALLY when things are not necessarily going the way I had hoped.

    Thank you for sharing and caring about us! 😀

    • Carol Amato

      You’re welcome, Elizabeth – glad you enjoyed it. When things get tough, we have to be tough minded to get out of it…this is thought-provoking to say the least.

      Have a great weekend. :)
      – Carol

  • aida s. suarez

    Carol, i not only enjoy the pictures, i enjoy the moraleja o lesson also. i fowarded the link to four very special persons in my life, my 3 daughters and daughter in law.
    This person who did not like the pictures.. perhaps not even did bother to read the story that came along with the pictures. Poor thing! Hope she did’t ruin your day. But yes, remarks like this are soooo cold.
    Anyhow… thanks for the interesting views. Love great pictures! We see so many pictures now in YouTube that i had no time for TV now. Uh!
    I also love to read the comments of other suscribers, there are compliments to the blog. I learn from others and others learn from me. We’re learning a lot from youuuu! Again, thank you for the lessons. Have a blessed day tomorrow at church!
    And wao! This young disabled person making money using the Google Sniper 2.0. Again, wao! And… i will say to the negative person if she wants money… she should go for it too. I think the only thing we have to do is: to work hard and do not be impatience.

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Aida,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it – I certainly did! :) Thank you for sharing, that’s wonderful! Yes, I think the person who was negative didn’t take time to read the story….that’s probably it. Yes, I rarely watch TV either…
      Yes, so excited about Donald making 4-6k with Google Sniper each month. Makes me SO glad I recommended it to him!
      Have a blessed weekend. :)
      – Carol

  • Dorothy Marr

    Hi Carol
    Thank you for the message. This is such a thoughtful message and can miss so many people, but being negitive is the problem. Thank God only one person was that way. As long as we think positive and take a good hard look and not rush into things without thinking things out it all work out in the long run.

    You have help me alot. Thank you.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Dorothy,
      Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with you! It’s fine to analyze a situation and then more forward, but sometimes we find ourselves being continually critical, which is NOT good… Thanks for stopping by. – Carol :)

  • katie

    love the beautiful pictures very heart warming, make you with you was at one of these places just relaxing.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Katie,

      Yes, I agree – very beautiful places depicted in those pictures and a wonderful state of mind to have if we follow the daughter’s example of thinking outside the box! :)
      Thanks for stopping by. – Carol

  • Don Goldwyn

    Carol, as always you only send sound advice,I truly enjoy all your “Newsletters” Many thanks

    • Carol Amato

      You’re welcome, Don – so glad you are enjoying the info I send – that’s the goal! :)
      Have a blessed weekend.
      – Carol

  • Luis

    Hello Carol, as always you have nothing but positive advice on how to stay focused on this business. I am greatful for all the help you have given me! I can’t wait to make my first dollar. With all the information you and Anthony send me,it won’t be long. GOD BLESS YOU and your family! –Thanks–Luis

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Luis,
      How very kind of you to take the time to stop by and let me know you’re grateful! With such a kind heart, you’ll be sure to succeed! :)
      Let me know how I can help…
      Have a good evening.
      – Carol

  • cesar duarte

    carol thanks for sharing and undertanding i now understand the story very clearly the first time i did pay not mch attention but now i pay full attention that so a nice story wonderful story that a teaching of how you can not give up on problem try to find a way to solve it there alway a way all you had to do is simple is not to give up think because that you goal to succese in life once again thank you for support and help people to have encourage to succese in life because we need change in our life thank yuo and god bless you

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Cesar,

      That’s exactly right! :) I’m so glad you took the time to watch it, enjoy and learn – that is the sign of a winner!
      Hope you have a wonderful evening.
      Take Care,

  • bet

    Thanks. wonderful story. I wish I could think that well. I am afraid we older folks, especially, have been taught to think she cheated by dropping the rock. I guess we have to slow down and open our minds.

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Bet,

      I’m one of the older folks (I think) at 50-1/2, and I think it was fine as the man was a liar and a cheat to begin with, bringing him to justice so to speak. He didn’t even protest because he knew the whole thing was built on a lie. I probably need to slow down because sometimes I struggle with having a balance. I enjoy work so much that time flies by. :) I appreciate you sharing your view, Bet! Have a wonderful day, :)
      – Carol

  • Caleb

    I use to couldn’t stand when ppl tried cornering me into making a certain choice not in my best interest like this farmer did until I came to realize they were just using strategy to convince me of their thinking, but since I have my own thinking i can easily ignore their “strategy” nowadays. A great uncle of mine once told me that he noticed I had funnel vision while he had tunnel vision and he admitted that the former is best and that I should never change that, however I have seen it is wise to know when to best use one or the other 😉

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Caleb,

      I certainly appreciate your perspective. Very interesting observation by your uncle…. Thanks for sharing.
      I hope you have a great rest of the week.
      – Carol

  • Yshi

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful thoughts and inspirational images. You are right, everyone should live in a positive mental attitude especially in a difficult situation. The challenges that life throws upon us only make us stronger in the end.
    This is very inspiring Carol. Thank you!

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Yshi!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and were inspired. It’s a wonderful thought-provoking slide show.

      Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. :)

      – Carol

  • Geri

    It’s amazing to me how most of us try to take the easy way out or the road more traveled instead of the road less traveled. There are definitely, more ways to skin a cat. No offense to animal lovers, I’m one too. This is a good post and a reminder to keep an open mind. Just because a situation seems impossible, that doesn’t mean that it is.
    Good job, Carol

    Thanks, Geri

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Geri!

      I really appreciate your observations and your take away from this story – absolutely true. :-)

      It’s a message of hope, really, as well as thinking outside of the box. Thanks for your kind words.

      Talk soon,
      – Carol

  • Sumbo A

    Great story and illustrations. In this life being a pessimist can only lead to failure or not even start anything resourceful in life. Life is not fair, but it is us that should make it fairer. No matter what life throws at us, it is the best option to adapt and find ways of getting out it.

    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Sumbo,

      You shared words of wisdom for sure! Absolutely agree! Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. :)

      Have a good evening.
      – Carol

  • Linda

    Your blog posts are always so engaging. What a beautiful story for me to share. Thanks so much :)

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Linda!

      You’re welcome, I can’t keep this one to myself. I shared it a while back and am “re-sharing” since I have so many new readers.

      Have a wonderful day. :)
      – Carol

  • Stacie Walker

    Hello Carol,

    This is an excellent post. Very inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise.

    I really love what you said about, “Don’t look for the easy or familiar solution.”

    This is so true. I really appreciate your wisdom. I look forward to reading more of your future posts.

    To Your Success,
    Stacie Walker

    • Carol Amato

      Hello Stacie,

      Yes, it is an awesome story! It’s a life lesson that I keep going back to.

      You are very welcome and Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. :)

      – Carol

  • Eric

    Nice post Carol,

    I really enjoyed the story about the pebble. What a great demonstration of creative thinking!

    -Eric Out-

    • Carol Amato

      Hi Eric,

      I really did too that’s why I created a blog post about it. It’s timeless really, so have updated it to a video. It used to be a slide show.

      Have a great weekend. :)
      – Carol