You Will Never Make It To 100
You Can’t Fail 100 Times In a Row
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When I was a young boy, I was short for my age, lightweight for my age, not fast for my age, and not strong for my age. So of course, I wanted to play football. I began begging my Dad to let me play tackle football on a team. Day after day I asked. It took him awhile to come around, but he finally said, “Yes you can play football…” which started me hooping and hollering until he had me quiet down so that I could hear the rest of his statement. His complete statement was, “Yes you can play football as long as you agree that you won’t quit once you start. Do not quit.” Of course, I agreed. [Read the rest of this slice-of-life at the end of this article.] Anywho…
My challenge as a life coach often boils down to 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Work with clients so that they get clear on the goals that must be achieved.
Step 2: Work with clients to develop a proven plan for reaching their goals.
Step 3: Keep my clients accountable and flexible as they execute the plan so that they reach the goals.
It’s an unbelievably successful approach that has worked for clients around the world. That said, the biggest barrier to reaching worthy goals is not lack of talent, lack of opportunity, lack of connections, lack of money…
The biggest barrier faced by most who seek to reach worthy personal or professional goals is the tendency to give up too early. Said simply, most people fail once and then quit trying, forever clinging to what is instead of what could be.
My good friend – the incomparable motivational speaker Les Brown – said:
“Most people knock on the door of their dreams once, then run away before anyone has a chance to the open the door. But if you keep knocking, persistently and endlessly, eventually the door will open.”
Les is absolutely right.
But I have a very simple rule that has been shown to allow those I work with to reach their highest goals. Here’s my rule:
I insist that they commit to trying to reach their goal at least one hundred times before they consider quitting.
Over more than 20 years helping clients achieve their goals and live their best lives, I have never had a client not reach their goal wayyyyyy before they had failed 100 times.
You may fail the first time. You might fail the second time. You may fail the first 20 times.
But, I have never seen anyone fail 100 straight times
Quick comment: To fail is to be blessed. A “fail” is most often a sign that you need to tweak your approach, up-level your plan, change your verbiage, increase your effort, enhance your team… Failing is most often a very good thing because it teaches – over time – the approach, plan, verbiage, effort level, or team makeup that is necessary to reach the goal.
Given this, if – after each fail—you relentlessly & creatively seek to improve your approach… you will eventually have an approach… that is so good and so irresistible that the success you seek will be yours.
You will not fail 100 straight times in pursuit of your worthy goal.
Some people try doing a math problem once, get the wrong answer, and then – before quitting to never do math again – state with frightening certitude, “I’m not good at math.” Perhaps you’ve heard this said. You might have said this, or something similar, yourself.
On the other hand, life’s winners try to learn a math problem, and get the wrong answer, again and again and again. But they keep trying to correctly do the problem until they get it right. Once they get the math problem right, they still aren’t satisfied. They do the problem one more time JUST TO BE SURE that they know how to do it. Winners!
Don’t stop chasing your goal until you get it!
Here are some examples.
Writer J.K. Rowling was divorced, on welfare and with a child to support as her first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers.
Walt Disney went bankrupt and struggled mightily before achieving success and creating the Walt Disney empire.
Stephen King – the famous author – had his first book, Carrie, rejected by 30 publishers. He – with the encouragement of his wife – didn’t quit. Carrie became one of the most successful horror books of all time and led to an amazing career.
Bill Gates, now one of the world’s wealthiest people, struggled to find success early on. He took what he learned from his failures to create Microsoft.
Colonel Sanders was fired from several jobs and did not find success with Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was in his mid-60s. KFC is now one of the most recognizable franchises in the world.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore. Today she is a billionaire.
Famous Hollywood director & producer Steven Spielberg was rejected several times for admission by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Art.
Vera Wang competed to join – but was not chosen for – the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. She became an editor at Vogue, but was not chosen for the editor-in-chief position. She started designing wedding gowns at age 40 and today her business is worth over $1 billion.
Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison was fired from his first two jobs. He went on to become one of the world’s foremost inventors.
Sidney Poitier auditioned for the theater and screwed his lines up so much that the director told him to stop wasting his time and go get a job as a dishwasher. Poitier did not give up on his dream, eventually becoming an Academy Award Winner for Best Actor.
As a child, Albert Einstein was considered dumb. He went on to win the Nobel prize in physics and develop the relativity theory that corrected the deficiencies of Newtonian physics.
In one of Fred Astaire’s first screen tests, he was judged as, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.” He went on to become a Hollywood and Broadway legend and the most influential dancer in the history of film.
After Harrison Ford’s first very small movie role, an executive took him into his office and told him he’d never succeed in the movie business. He did not stop trying and has gone on to stardom in the Star Wars films, the Indiana Jones movies, the Blade Runner films, the films Witness (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor), Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Apocalypse Now, Presumed Innocent, The Fugitive, and Air Force One.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. Thank goodness he did not quit. He became a legendary children’s author, penning classics, ” The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” His books have sold more than 600 million copies.
Henry Ford failed twice as an automobile entrepreneur. He took the wisdom gained from his failures to create the Ford Motor Company.
Lady Gaga got dropped by her record label, Island Def Jam, after 3 months. Did she quit? No. Gaga, real name “Stefani Germanotta,” is the winner of six Grammy awards and is worth around $60 million according to Forbes.
Ang Lee failed Taiwan’s college entrance exams. Not once. Twice! Then he tried to become an actor, but his English wasn’t good enough. Now, he’s a three-time Academy Award-winning director, and he brought us the huge blockbusters, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” “Life of Pi,” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
Milton Hershey loved candy. But, running a successful candy business was a struggle. His first candy business went bust. He second candy business also failed. But, he stayed at it, learned from his failures, and created Hershey Bars and The Hershey Company, one of the world’s biggest confectionery manufacturers.
H.J. Heinz’s first company went bankrupt. He did not give in to failure. He launched a new company in Pittsburgh. That company made ketchup, and the rest is history. The H.J. Heinz Company has over $26 billion in revenue.
The epic novel, “Gone With the Wind,” was rejected by 38 publishers.
These are all examples from famous people. Here are some examples you may be more comfortable digesting:
1. The Parents who want the best for their child. But, they see him struggling with reading in school. What do they do? Give up? No! They get their child additional resources (books, tutors, extra study time…). They have their child read to them each night. As a result, the child becomes more comfortable reading and goes on to excel in school.
2. The couple determined to create a wonderful relationship after some struggles during the early years of their marriage. Did they separate? No! They work together to get it right (as opposed to being right). They craft their relationship agenda, develop plans for properly raising their kids, and make plans for buying that new house. The result, their relationship is purposeful and stronger than they ever thought possible.
3. The woman who has been trying to stop smoking for the past 12 years. What do you think she should do?
4. The man who has been planning to lose weight for the past 20 years. What do you think he should do?
How many times have you knocked at the door of the goal keeper?
How many failures did you experience before you quit?
“To reach your worthy goals, you must never give in. You must knock, knock, knock at the goal keeper’s door. You must keep knocking when all the losers have quit.”
1. You won’t be successful unless you embrace failures as stair-steps to your goal.
2. You won’t be successful unless you fail.
3. Be flexible about your plan-of-attack as you experience failure. Be willing to tweak and change as needed to improve your approach.
4. Your goals are yours if you won’t stop until you reach them.
5. Don’t let age, income, education, gender, past missteps, ethnicity, height, weight… or anything else stop you from going after you goals with a relentless fervor.
6. Don’t stop going after your dream. Go get yours!
So, commit to going after your worthy goal at least 100 straight times before you even consider quitting. You won’t fail 100 times in a row.
How will you know when it is time to give up? I’ll answer that in an upcoming column.
About me begging my father to let me play football.
Yes. I joyfully agreed that I would not quit if I joined a team. This ended up being one of the most important life lessons my Father taught me. It was as simple as it was hard. Why? The team I joined was from the very rough part of town. I was from out in the country. The team was a juggernaut and every other player was better, bigger, older, stronger, and tougher than I was. I took a pounding. I wanted to quit the team the very first day of practice. And for a long time after that. But, my Dad and I had made a deal. I did not quit.
That very important lesson from my Dad has stuck with me across the years, the sports, the businesses, the situations… Learning not to quit changed my life. I hope you find this advice as useful as I have.
BTW – Hit the following LINK if you are facing some interesting opportunities or thorny challenges.
Darryl L. Mobley
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