Never Giving Up

By Doug Wright

At first glance it seems that Dame Nellie Melba and Tony Robbins have absolutely nothing in common. One is a famous Australian opera singer and the other an American motivational speaker, personal finance instructor and self-help author.

However, both came from family backgrounds that seemed unpromising and rose to become top of their game through sheer persistence, hard work and a knack for doing the right thing at the right time.

Helen Porter Mitchell, (later Nellie Melba, the name crafted from ‘Helen’ and ‘Melbourne’), was born in 1861 at Richmond, near Melbourne. She was the eldest surviving of ten children of David Mitchell, building contractor, and his wife Isabella Ann née Dow. Isabella was musical: she ensured their daughter had singing lessons as a young girl. By her early twenties, Nellie was already receiving attention because of her voice.


Her marriage to Charles Armstrong was a disaster, and prompted Nellie to travel to Europe to study opera. After studying in Paris, she made her official debut in Brussels in 1887, as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. In a very short time, the opera houses of Europe wanted Nellie, and her name became famous.

She first performed in New York in 1893 as Lucia di Lammermoor, and from there her career took her across the US, back to Europe, and eventually to her musical home, London’s Covent Garden. There were many trips between Europe and Australia. During World War 1, Nellie worked to raise funds for Australian war charities as well as undertaking three wartime concert tours of North America.

Melba was appointed D.B.E. in 1918, and G.B.E. in 1927. She died on 23 February 1931 of septicaemia, in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst. She was survived by her son.

Anthony Robbins was born in California, in 1960. His early life, according to Tony’s own description, was chaotic and abusive, with his parents divorcing when he was seven, followed by a series of stepfathers, then adoption by Jim Robbins at twelve. However, that didn’t last, and when he left, Tony’s mother turned to alcohol and prescription drugs. Tony became the caregiver for his siblings. When he was 17, his mother chased him out of the house with a knife, and he never returned.


Lacking a college education, he began promoting seminars for Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. In turn, he began working as a self-help coach and later taught neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and Ericksonian hypnosis after training with NLP co-founder John Grinder.

His books and infomercials have brought him to forefront of the seminar circuit. His book Unlimited Power, published in 1986, discusses the topics of health and energy, overcoming fears, persuasive communication, and enhancing relationships. In the book, he says that by using neurolinguistic programming, anyone can become successful at almost anything.

Tony’s philanthropic work began around 1991, when he founded the Anthony Robbins Foundation. This is a charity dedicated to empowering individuals and organisations. It has products and programmes in more than 2,000 schools, 700 prisons, and 100,000 health and human service organisations. Tony continues to donate book profits and personal contributions to Feeding America, the third largest U.S. charity and the nation’s largest hunger-relief and food-rescue organisation.

In spite of various controversial court cases and personal challenges, Tony continues to inspire millions through his motivational work and self-help books.

So what do these two have in common? Both came from obscurity to world fame, both influenced by their childhood and early years. Both raised funds for causes dear to their hearts. Both had difficult marriages.

The message, however, is clear. No matter what the field of endeavour, whether in the arts or in business, persistence, hard work and a never give up attitude are the keys to success.


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Doug Wright, is a transformed survivor of a head-on near death vehicle collision.

Passionate about helping people overcome their inner most fears, especially when recovering from trauma, Doug has survived to share his courageous story … his motto is “never give up”.

Away from his everyday activities, Doug invests his spare time playing his electric guitar, knocking out an eclectic mix of Eagles hits and fishing for coral trout in Airlee Beach, Northern Queensland.