One of the secrets of success that I have learned in life is how to understand the unimportance of failure. You have two choices. You can let past failures intimidate you and keep you from moving forward, or you can understand that they can well be learning lessons which teach you how to be smarter and wiser in the future.
A couple of sport anecdotes constantly stick in my mind. You may or may not be old enough to remember a very famous baseball player named Babe Ruth. For a number of years he set the world’s record for home runs. he had 714 home runs. However, what very few people know is that he also held another record, and that is for strikeouts. 1330 strike outs. He held this title for a long time until another great player by the name of Mickey Mantle came along and broke the Babe’s home run record. Of course, what no one seems to remember is, Mickey Mantle also set new world record with 1710 strikeouts. People are usually confused when I ask them this question. In baseball what happens if 60% of the time when a player goes to bat, he strikes out or pops up? The answer is, “They put him in the Hall of Fame, because he is batting 400%.”
More than 50 years ago, when I was working my way through college, I had the good fortune of having a wise mature manager who tried to teach me how to sell encyclopedias. Yes, that was a long time ago when you would get an appointment, go out in the evening and try to sell a set of encyclopedias. He said to me, “Garf, you will see that I am able to close approximately 1 out of 3 sales calls.” I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, but I went along. Of course, it was in the evening and the first sales call was absolutely unproductive. The people were not interested, and should never have filled out the prospect card. As we walked away from their apartment to the car, he looked at me, winked and said, “That’s one out of the way.”
To this day, I still, distinctly, remember the second exposure. It was a husband and wife together. She wanted a set of encyclopedias. He didn’t want any part of it. I saw them fight in front of us. I saw a check start to be written out and then torn up. It was not a pleasant site, and I’m thinking to myself that this is not for me. However, again as we walked to the car, this wise mature man puts his arm around my shoulder and said, “Boy are we getting hot!” Yes, I’m sure you understand that on the next call he did make a sale. Although, I was never as good as he was, I was able to make a sale every 3 or 4 presentations.
To this day, I am extremely lucky because I have learned to address failure with, “Boy are we getting hot. That’s another loser out of the way!”