Get Out There and Fail


     LESSON 11

Get Out There and Fail

Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.

— Henry Ford

She couldn’t pay her credit card bills for 26 years.

She moved 25 times looking for work.

She was fired 18 times.

She worked for 26 years before she earned an annual salary of $22,000.

She occasionally lived on food stamps and slept in her car.

   You’re probably thinking, “If this is a book about success, why are you droning on and on about a woman who had so many failures?”

   I’ll tell you why. The “failure” described above is well-known TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. You see, despite all of her setbacks, she refused to give up her childhood dream of a career in broadcasting.

    She was willing to keep failing... and keep failing... until she succeeded. Sally Jessy Raphael has earned millions of dollars and has enjoyed a long and successful TV career. All because she kept a great attitude despite years of failures.

In The Beginning

How is it that someone like Sally Jessy Raphael can endure 26 years of failure and keep going? If you look back to your own childhood, I think you’ll see that you, too, demonstrated tremendous resilience in the face of repeated failures.

   Remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle? You probably began with training wheels. Eventually, when these crutches were removed, keeping your balance became more difficult. You struggled to stay upright, maybe even falling a few times and scraping yourself. You were learning an important early lesson about failure.

   As you practiced, it’s likely that one of your parents walked beside you shouting instructions, encouraging you and catching you as you lost balance. You were scared... but excited! You looked forward to the time when you would succeed, when you would at last ride free on your own. So you kept at it every day, and eventually mastered the skill of riding a bike.

   What contributed to your ultimate success in learning how to ride your bike? Well, persistence and sheer repetition, certainly. You were going to stick with it no matter how long it took! It also helped that you were enthusiastic about what you set out to achieve — that you could hardly wait to reach your goal. And finally, let’s not underestimate the impact of positive encouragement. You always knew your parents were in your corner, supporting you, rooting for your success.

   As a six-year-old learning to ride your bike, you were optimistic... thrilled... and eager to meet the challenge. You couldn’t wait to try again. You knew you’d master it eventually.

   But that was a long time ago.

Yesterday And Today

Now let’s examine how most adults approach the development of new skills. Would you say they’re optimistic...thrilled... and eager to meet the challenge? We both know the answer to that question is “NO.”

   Let’s assume we asked a group of adults to learn a new software program or to switch to another position in the company. How would most respond?

   They’d try to avoid it.

   They’d complain.

   They’d make excuses why they shouldn’t have to do it.

   They’d doubt their abilities.

   They’d be afraid.

   What happened to that six-year-old brimming with vitality and a sense of adven-ture? How did that child turn into an adult moaning and groaning about learning something new? As adults, most of us become a lot more concerned about the opinions of others, often hesitating because people may laugh at us or criticize us.

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

— Winston Churchill

   At the age of six, we knew we had to fall off the bike and get back on to learn a new skill. Falling off the bike wasn’t a “bad” thing. But as we got older, we started to perceive falling off as a bad thing — rather than an essential part of the process of achieving our goal.

   As I pointed out in Lesson 10, it can be uncomfortable to try something new, perhaps even scary. But if you take your eyes off the goal and instead focus your attention on how others may be viewing you, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. To develop a new skill or reach a meaningful target, you must be committed to doing what it takes to get there, even if it means putting up with negative feedback or falling on your face now and then.

   Successful people have learned to “fail” their way to success. While they may not particularly enjoy their “failures,” they recognize them as a necessary part of the road to victory. After all, becoming proficient at any skill requires time, effort and discipline... and the willingness to persevere through whatever difficulties may arise.

These Failures Make Millions of Dollars

Take the example of a professional baseball player. As it is today, the player who gets just three hits in 10 attempts is at the top of his profession, making several million dollars a year. That’s a 70 percent failure rate! And the fans will no doubt taunt him when he strikes out.

   And speaking of baseball, what a thrill it was to watch Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals as he hit 70 home runs during the 1998 season. He’s such an exciting player. But did you know that Mark McGwire struck out 155 times in 1998? And for his career, McGwire has hit 457 home runs; yet, he has struck out 1,259 times. That’s almost three times as many strikeouts as home runs!

The greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one.

— Elbert Hubbard

   When I ask you to name the best basketball player of all time, who comes to mind? I’m guessing that many of you immediately thought of Michael Jordan. He gets my vote. Let me share with you this statistic — Michael Jordan has a career shooting percentage of 50 percent. In other words, half of the shots he took in his career were “failures.”

   Of course, this principle isn’t limited to sports. We also know that show business stars and media personalities are no strangers to failure. Many actors invest 10 or 15 years, enduring hundreds of rejections before landing a part that launches their careers. And then, even after achieving some degree of success, they still experience occasional box office flops.

   On the night he graduated from college, Jerry Seinfeld did his first comedy gig. It was at a comedy club in New York City. He bombed. When asked to describe that evening, Seinfeld said, “It was pretty horrible. It was a terrible sinking feeling.” But he didn’t quit. He kept perform-ing his stand-up routine at night. He had five very tough years. And then he was invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981. He was a big hit... and on his way to an incredibly successful career.

   In a nutshell, all these individuals realize that success, to a large extent, is a matter of persistence. That is, if you keep trying, keep developing yourself and keep making adjustments along the way, you’re going to succeed. You simply need to get enough at-bats... go on enough auditions... visit enough potential clients.

Undaunted By Failure

I want to tell you about two guys who wrote a book containing a collection of inspirational stories. They figured it would take about three months to make a deal with a publisher.

   The first publisher they approached said “NO.”

   The second publisher said “NO.”

   The third publisher said “NO.”

   The next 30 publishers said “NO.”

   Having racked up 33 rejections over a period of three years, what do you think they did? They submitted their book to another publisher.

   The 34th publisher said “YES.”

   And that one “YES” — after 33 “failures” — is what launched the spectacular success of Chicken Soup For The Soul, written and compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. If you’ve been in a bookstore in the last five years, I’ll bet you’ve seen that book. There’s a good chance that you’ve read one of the books in the Chicken Soup series.

   The Chicken Soup For The Soul series has sold over 30 million copies! All because Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen had the determination to fail over and over... and to keep going until they succeeded.

   What sustained Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen through 33 failures? Their attitudes! If these guys had negative attitudes, they would have given up after the first or second rejection, missing out on a pot of gold. But their attitudes remained positive and upbeat — failure... after failure... after failure.

   What’s a good attitude worth? In their case, about 10 million bucks apiece... and still counting!

No Overnight Success

Another example of someone who endured years of failure is the phenomenally successful radio host Rush Limbaugh. For years, Rush Limbaugh worked at low-paying jobs and was ridiculed before he made a successful breakthrough.

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

— William Feather

   After floundering in radio for 12 years, he was urged to get out of the business. In 1979, he left the radio industry and spent five miserable years in a sales job for which he wasn’t suited.  In 1983, he returned to radio and the rest, as we know, is history.

   So, when you get right down to it, there is no such thing as “failure” — there are only results, some more successful than others. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of the line and that success isn’t possible. The only time success is impossible is when you quit. Quitting is final. But continued attempts, with commitment and diligence, can be turned into success.

Never Give Up

In the early 1990s, the owner of a midwestern company called our office to inquire about my speaking programs, as well as our products and publications. I spoke with him on the phone and promptly sent out some information. When we called to follow up, he’d say that he was “thinking about it and hadn’t made a decision yet.”

   At the beginning, we called every week. No sale. Then, we called once a month. No sale. For a period of a few years, we kept calling this gentleman. We kept sending him quarterly newsletters and flyers. And all we had to show for it was one failure after another.

   But in the spring of 1998, a representative of his company called our office, and I was hired to present a motivational program at one of their sales meetings. When I met the owner in person, he told me, “I was impressed with your persistence. Someone from your office kept calling me for years... and didn’t give up.”

   Sure, we put up with years of failure. But it was all worth it when we made that sale!

Key Questions

If you aren’t getting the results you want or have been discouraged by failures, ask yourself these questions: 

1. Do I have an unrealistic timetable? Maybe you expect to “skip steps” and succeed on a grand scale immediately. Success is usually achieved by climbing one step at a time. And you don’t always know how long it will take to advance to the next level. So, be patient with yourself — and resist the temptation to compare your progress with that of anyone else! You’ll advance faster than some, slower than others. Maintain a great attitude... take action... make adjustments... and the results will come.

2. Am I truly committed? Do you have a burning desire to achieve your goal? It’s essential that you be willing to do whatever it takes and that you banish any thought of giving up before you accomplish your objective. Of course, it’s much easier to be committed when you love what you’re doing. Therefore, go after those goals you’re passionate about, and harbor no thought of quitting.

3. Do I have too many discouraging influences?  Unsuccessful results can be frustrating. That’s why we need to surround ourselves with people who support and believe in us. If you hang around with negative people who are highly critical or who are doing very little in their own lives, your energy and enthusiasm will be drained. Therefore, develop a network of individuals to encourage and coach you toward success.

4. Am I preparing to succeed? Success in any endeavor requires thorough preparation. Are you taking steps to learn everything you can about accomplishing your goal? This means reading books, listening to tapes, taking courses and networking with highly successful people in your field. It might mean finding a mentor or getting a coach to work with you. Successful individuals are always sharpening their skills. Those getting unsuccessful outcomes often do the same things over and over without making necessary adjustments. So, be “coachable.” Accept the fact that you don’t already know it all and find resources to keep you on track and moving forward.

Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It s quite simple. Double your rate of failure.

— Thomas J. Watson

5. Am I truly willing to fail? Face it, failure is inevitable. You will encounter defeat prior to succeeding. In our hearts, we know our most valuable lessons come from our failures. Failure is essential for growth. Look failure squarely in the face and see it as a natural part of the success process. Then, failure will lose its power over you. The truth is, when you’re not afraid to fail, you’re well on the way to success. Welcome failure as an unavoidable yet vital component in the quest to achieve your goals.

Turning Failure Into Success

Your failures are learning experiences that point out the adjustments you must make. Never try to hide from failure, for that approach guarantees that you’ll take virtually no risks... and achieve very little. As Beverly Sills once remarked, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

   No, you won’t close every sale. And you won’t make money on every investment. Life is a series of wins and losses, even for the most successful. The winners in life know that you crawl before you walk and you walk before you run. And with each new goal comes a new set of failures. It’s up to you whether you treat these disappointments as temporary setbacks and challenges to overcome, or as insurmountable obstacles.

   If you make it your business to learn from every defeat and stay focused on the end result you wish to attain, failure will eventually lead you to success!


Which book you would like to read next? Comment Below.

Don't forget to share this post!


Popular posts from this blog

Wealth is What You Don't See

The art of staying young while growing old