Monday, March 10, 2008

Persistence: Try Until You Succeed

I have read the biographies of scores of great achievers. As you study their lives you find that they did not achieve their success by luck or accident but as a result of work, persistence and learning from their failures. Sometimes we see those who have achieved great success and think they are somehow uniquely gifted or talented and that we could never duplicate their success but great achievers are not simply born, they are developed.

Before Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield became the bestselling authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series which has now sold over 100 million copies, they were rejected by 140 publishers and told by their agent, “I can't sell this book - I'm giving it back to you guys.”

Before the Wright brothers became the inventors of modern aviation, they had thousands of failed experiments and glides. Orville Wright wrote, “Our first experiments were rather disappointing. The machine at times seemed to be entirely beyond control.”

Before the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey’s company was one of the largest leadership development companies in the world, he endured 11 straight years of negative cash flow. The company had nothing in the bank, they were totally extended on their accounts payable, and their credit lines were maxed out. Their “debt to tangible net worth” ratio was 223 to 1. Over the next two and a half years, the company value grew to $160 million. (Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust, (New York: Free Press, 2006) p. 109)

Before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he lost his first store, a Ben Franklin variety store, after 5 years of hard work. Sam Walton wrote of the experience, “It was the low point of my business life. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It really was a nightmare. I had built the best variety store in the whole region and worked hard in the community—done everything right—and now I was being kicked out of town. It didn’t seem fair. . . I’ve always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn’t any different. . . The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time. . . I had a chance for a brand-new start, and this time I knew what I was doing.” (Sam Walton, Sam Walton, (New York: Doubleday, 1992) p. 30-31)

Walt Disney suffered a devastating setback in 1928, a blow so harsh that his career seemed about to disintegrate. He lost his first successful cartoon creation, “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,” because he had naively signed away the ownership rights. Emerging empty-handed from the debacle, Disney didn’t quit. He continued to work and his next creation was Mickey Mouse. (Daniel Gross, Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Times, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996) p. 123)

Before I was a published author, I struggled to write. Prior to my first semester at college, I set a goal to become a published author. I remember receiving my first writing assignment and being so excited to begin my writing career. I worked hard on this paper spending dozens of hours ensuring it was my best effort and an “A” paper. A couple weeks after the papers were turned in, I remember the teacher starting class by putting on the board the grades “A” through “F” and the break down of how the members of the class scored on the paper. I was sure I had turned in one of the “A” papers. I was going to be a published author and I had worked so hard on the paper. Well, I got my paper handed to me and on the top of the paper was not an “A,” “B,” or “C” and it wasn’t even a “D.” On top of my paper was written “F” with the note, “This is not collegiate material. You need help. Get a tutor.” This was the start of my writing career. Writing had been one of my worse subjects in high school, but I was determined to make it one of my best. I went to the teacher and asked if he would give me a list of the students that got an “A” on the paper so I could see what an “A” paper looked like and learn from them. I began to take writing classes and learning from other authors. I worked hard to improve and develop my writing skills and by my senior year, I was a published author. My first book was published by the college for use in one of the university’s leadership courses.

The formula for success is to try until you succeed. There are no failures in life only quitters.


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Anonymous said...

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