“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.” Champion Creed, Tom Hopkins
Tom Hopkins is a world-class salesman who’s devoted much of his time and energy to helping other salesmen build their self-esteem and find the resilience to bounce back from failure – again and again. Rejection – it’s part of the salesman’s territory just as it is for us as writers. So there’s a lot we can learn from a pro like Tom Hopkins about staying strong and pushing past obstacles and failure.
Tom never finished college and he struggled with self-image issues. Once he decided to enter sales, he soaked up all the advice he could, talking to other salespeople and attending seminars. Here’s how he describes this time in his life:
“However, even though I was hearing the messages and learning what to do and say, my self-image hadn’t yet improved enough to help me achieve that great life of my dreams. The encouragement to keep working at it had to come from within. I started writing down what I would like to hear a mentor or coach say to me in order to stay motivated on those days when everything I touched turned to something other than gold. The words I used and have taught my students since one of my first training events in 1974 are these:
“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.”
“It wrote it out and put it where I’d see that creed multiple times in every day. Today, it’s part of my training in nearly every seminar I teach. Take it, use it, and keep trying until you achieve the success of your dreams.” You can go to Tom’s website for a pdf of his “Champion Creed” if you find it inspiring (http://www.tomhopkins.com/pdf/PrintChampionCreed.pdf).
“Winners lose more than losers lose” – that’s how my good friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert sums up what Tom is saying.* Rob also notes that in baseball, Pete Rose set the major league record for the most hits, but before that he also set the record for the most outs. Legendary pitcher Cy Young holds the record for the most number of games won in a career, but he also holds the record for the most number of games lost. And Babe Ruth? For many years, he held the record for home runs, but he also had the most strike outs.
What’s our takeaway from this? What can writers learn from salesmen and strikeout kings? The more failures we rack up – the more rejections we get from publications or agents – the more likely it is that we will succeed. We have to be in it to win it (See Rejection Club). So often, we look at someone who’s succeeded and see only their success. We don’t see all the failure their success is built on. In our own work, we hold back. We want to avoid failure instead of seeing it as integral to success – as part of the fabric of success. I know I’ve done it.
But let’s adopt a winning attitude – and not be afraid to lose more. Write on!
* Check out Dr. Gilbert’s wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690).