“The second Pierce Junction well created a new mantra for Cullen. Hit the flanks of the old abandoned salt domes, and drill deeper. If he didn’t find oil, drill deeper still. Many of his field hands, a number of whom would work with Cullen for the next thirty years, could imitate his laconic instructions in their sleep: “Boys, let’s go a little deeper.” His longtime operations manager, Lynn Meador, once said, “When they start to lower Mr. Cullen into a grave, I’ll bet he’ll sit up and say, “Boys, dig her a couple of feet deeper.”
– The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes
Hugh Roy Cullen, one of the original Texas Oilmen, died in the 1950s with a fortune estimated at $200 to $300 million — enough to make him a billionaire in today’s terms.
Cullen’s mantra, “drill deeper,” was used to find oil in places others had abandoned or overlooked. The “drill deeper” mindset can be good advice for struggling traders who feel unsatisfied with their results. Flitting from one approach to another is the equivalent of “drilling shallow” — leaving dry wells strewn across the landscape, none of them deep enough to hit paydirt.
“Drill deeper” also applies in seeking to attain mastery of a craft. The effort required to master simple competitive endeavors, let alone more complex ones such as trading, is usually far greater — and the well far deeper — than the average person anticipates. (Or, as Jack Kerouc put it: “You drive and drive and you’re still in Texas tomorrow night!”)
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