Lessons from Failure and Perseverance

For the last two years, I’ve run a $3-million-per-year solo consulting practice, but I have been out of money multiple times in my life. Today, I sell large six-figure consulting projects approximately once a month because that is all I can handle. But when I started doing this work, I was proposing (and getting rejected for) $7,500 projects.
As I write this, I don’t know anyone who runs a solo consultancy larger than mine, but not so long ago, I used to chase peers who ran larger operations and they wouldn’t talk to me. They wouldn’t give me the time of day.
Today my family is lucky to be succeeding in America, but when I was a small child, we came to America with $20, no English language, and no friends, connections, or opportunities. America was the opportunity. Freedom was the greatest opportunity.
What did it take to get from there to here?

  • Thousands of failures. Even today, I fail far more than I succeed. The failures are necessary. They are required for success. If you’re not failing a lot, it will be impossible for you to succeed. The failures lead us to the success.
  • Studying the mindsets, behaviors and technique that would take me where I wanted to go. We have to know what to do. We must LEARN the right things to do.
  • Faith in myself and my abilities. Fighting to get to the point where I knew that if I did the right things consistently, success would come. That is not a natural position in a flood of failures. At least it wasn’t for me. I had to battle the opposite, negative mindsets, to get there.
  • Finally, probably the most important component of my story: perseverance. Sometimes, getting here required an other-worldly perseverance. When seven different prospects reject you, and you NEED the business, it’s not easy to push forward.

So what do you do? You push forward. You try again anyway. If you’re going through a difficult time right now, I’ve been there. If you’re struggling, I’m with you. Believe me, I know where you are.
So does everyone who has succeeded at anything interesting. And we would all tell you: These struggles are a prerequisite for success.
Hard Work & Perseverance
I was talking with a close family friend over the weekend as we both marveled at the incredible opportunities our amazing country offers. He said, “In America, all you need is hard work and you can accomplish anything.”
I agree of course, and I also think another element is even more important to our success here: “Hard work and perseverance,” I said.
Success in America—and anywhere—demands that we continue trying to succeed even when success does not immediately present itself. Researchers find that perseverance is twice as important to success as talent is. Not giving up is far more important than being good.
So, yes, hard work in our great country will likely lead to some success. But add perseverance, and you will be impossible to stop. And in the selling profession, perseverance is the single most important behavior you can bring to your work. Without it, you will not overcome failure very much at all.
And ours is a failure business. Compared to other professions, we must overcome relentless failure and rejection. In fact, we only succeed a small percentage of the time in our work. Which is why, in sales, perseverance is the single most important characteristic we can implement. And hard work is a very close second.
So, don’t stop. Keep going. Have faith in your value and your abilities. Keep talking to people. Keep offering your great value to customers and prospects. Do these things, and soon enough, you will get to where you want to go.

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