Colonel Sanders – the founder of KFC – tried to sell his chicken recipe to restaurant owners at 65 years old. He was rejected 1,009 times before he got a “yes.”
Why do you think we find this story motivating?
Colonel Sanders Embarrasses And Inspires Us To New Possibilities
Colonel Sanders’ story motivates us in two ways.
First, we see that it’s possible for a person to be rejected more than 1,000 times in a row and still get up again – that’s extraordinary. Some of his rejections were harsh and humiliating too. He showed us that it’s possible to do that.
Second, it makes us see how much we can improve. Many of us don’t get beyond a few tries before we give up on something. Some of us don’t even try once! So when you hear that a 65-year-old man grabbed his suit and a bucket of chicken every morning despite constant rejections, you can’t help but think, “Gee, if this guy could do that, I could try at least a few more times… or 100 more times.”
In comparison to Colonel Sanders’ persistence, it’s a normal response to feel somewhat embarrassed to have given up after only a handful of rejections on several occasions (it’s ok though – we just need better strategies).
Using These Three Strategies, It’s Nearly Impossible To Give Up
These strategies are for the moments when the “give up feeling” hits you. Use them together, and you’ll have the most resolve in your neighborhood.
1. The Challenge Mindset Turns Failure Into Motivation
Right now, you have a standard for how many instances or how much time it’s “reasonable” to try things. Increase that standard. I don’t believe it requires any special mind tricks. It requires conscious thought and a firm decision that hearing “no” a few times isn’t going to stop you.
Just kidding. While that is true, there is also a trick you can try. People love their tricks, don’t they?
A common reaction to hearing “no” is to take a step back, and lick your wounds with some form of escapism (like ice cream and a movie). This is a common “slippery slope” response that can result in giving up. “Oh, I’ll just try something else,” you might think.
But there is an alternative mindset that will have you Colonel Sandersing up the place.
Think of “no” as a challenge (not as rejection). I’ve done this to make myself a better writer. If I write something, and people don’t seem to connect with it, I see it as a challenge to improve.
The challenge mindset leverages your competitive nature. Remember when you first ran into that goomba playing Super Mario Bros. and died? I bet you tried again because it was a challenge/goomba that you wanted to overcome. Why then, would you – figuratively speaking I hope – curl up into a ball when a person tells you no?
It’s because you’re taking it too personally. It doesn’t matter if two million people say that you’re the worst person ever, because only you define you. And when you take the responsibility of deciding who you are and what you can do, rejection is a tiny disappointment instead of a devastating blow.
2. As Long As You Keep Starting, You’ll Finish
“Poor finishers” are a myth because there are only poor starters.
Imagine you’re working on a project, and it’s going to take you 100 hours of work to finish it. Well, you can’t do that all at once because you need sleep, so it will have to take place over say, 20 sessions of five hours each. If you put in 35 hours of work into it, but don’t finish the project, what would you say the reason was?
You stopped starting. You never started the 8th work session!
This is a slight, but absolutely critical differentiation for your brain to make. Your brain has no idea how to “finish,” because it’s a multi-step process to get to the point of finishing something. But the brain does know how to start the first step.
Think of Colonel Sanders, and how on the morning after his 863rd rejection, he got out of bed, put on his suit, cooked some chicken, and started again. As long as you keep starting, you’ll never give up, so make that your goal.
3. Shrink Your Thinking Until It Becomes Easy To Move Forward
Before writing this article, I was wasting time. Can you guess why? It wasn’t laziness – it was because I wanted to do so much. And because I was wasting time, I felt discouraged and wanted to give up on the day. Instead, I gave myself a small objective to write 300 words, and I ended up writing much more than that.
When you try to do everything, you do nothing. (tweet this)
Giving up can be the result of being overwhelmed. Shrink your objective until it no longer intimidates you, and you’ll never give up.
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