Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you .
– Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up
OK, apologies for what to those of you who are up on your internet memes probably see as a RickRoll (although come on, it had to happen sooner or later!), but the reality is that far too many of us DO give up, let ourselves down, run around and desert our dreams / goals / ambitions when we don’t get the results we wanted right away or when things start to get tough.
Which is a massive shame because it is rare for success to come easily or quickly, but those who believe in themselves and their dreams, those who are prepared to stay the course and to do what it takes for as long as it takes, they are the ones who will ultimately find success.
That’s the key, the secret to success. Believe in what you are doing, and have the faith and drive to keep at it for as long as it takes, as these three real life examples illustrate.
The Colonel’s KFC is by any means a world famous brand these days, and he did indeed die a wealthy man. However it wasn’t always like that. He had his own restaurant for decades where he cooked and sold chicken using his special recipe. Then disaster struck, a new interstate drew traffic away and his restaurant had to close through lack of business. At the age of 65 Saunders was now jobless and broke. So what did he do? He decided that his chicken recipe was successful enough that if he was able to sell it in his restaurant, others might also be able to sell it and he hit upon the idea of franchising his recipe. So he set out on the road, driving from town to town, in his famous white suit, offering his franchise deal to each restaurant he came upon. And in every town his reception was the same – they pretty much laughed him, his suit and his recipe out of town. Undeterred, he continued driving from town to town, sleeping each night in his beat-up old car, often the only food he ate from day to day were the samples he cooked to show the restaurant owners. And the “No”s kept coming. In fact, Saunders was told “No” 1,009 time times over the course of 2 years before he finally got his first “Yes”.
Can you imagine being told “No” 1,009 times over two solid years and STILL having the belief, drive, enthusiasm and courage to go to the next restaurant? So many people would have given up after perhaps 5 now or 10 or 20, maybe some might have kept going to 100, but over 1,000? Rare is the individual who is sufficiently dedicated and has the necessary self-belief, yet that is what drove Saunders to carry on. And that is why, 8 years later in 1964, he was able to sell KFC for US$2,000,000 (over US$14,000,000 in 2012 terms), all because he believed in his dreams and refused to give up.
Disney had a dream, to create what he called “The Happiest Place on Earth”. He knew what he wanted to create. He knew with absolute certainty how successful and popular it would be. All he needed to do was to raise the finance to build it. Which is where he ran into a problem. The first bank he approached with his plans said he was crazy and turned him down. Undaunted, he approached another bank who said the same thing. As did the third bank. And the fourth bank. Every bank he approached with his plans, his dreams, his ambitions all turned him down, telling him he was crazy and it could never work. Yet Disney, completely convinced of the strength of his plans and certain that it would be a huge success, persevered and sought more and more enterprising solutions. In the end, 302 banks all turned him down flat before he was able to secure funding and ensure the creation of his vision of Disneyland in 1955. Disney had vision, ambition, and absolute faith in what he was doing. As an aside, Disney’s vision came to the fore again decades later when EPCOT was opened. A reported observed that it was a shame that Walt wasn’t still around to see the place. The response? “Oh he saw it alright. That’s why it exists.”.
First of all, let us remember for historical accuracy that Edison did not invent the lightbulb; what he did was to invent a successful commercially-producable implementation which took it from the lab to the home / office. Now, it has been said that it took Edison and his team 10,000 different attempts before getting the results they were seeking. After each failed attempt, Edison had noted everything they did, every component and material they used, the ways they used them, and noted that it didn’t work, before working out a new method to seek to overcome the previous failures. At no point did he throw his hands in the air and bemoan the fact that it was impossible, he was a failure, he’d tried but it didn’t work. He carried on, learning from what didn’t work so as to better refine what might (and eventually did) work. At one stage during the process, Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Wisely Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”
So what about you? What about your dreams, goals, ambitions, your vision? What are you going to do when the going gets tough?
Are you going to give up, let yourself down, run around and desert your dreams?
Or are you going to heed the lessons of the successful –
- Be clear on exactly what you want and why you want it
- Find out what you need to do to make it happen.
- Take each and every rejection or failure as an opportunity to learn more about what you are doing, analysing them to find out why it didn’t work.
- Use those lessons to improve your approach.
- Repeat until you succeed, no matter how long it takes!
Of course, nobody ever said it would be easy. But persevering and staying true to your vision, perhaps with the help of a supportive coach, can lead to wonderful things happening long after others would have given up.