We’re told it’s the secret way to success. That all truly successful people understand it. That it’s easy. All you have to do is open yourself up to opportunity and it will roll into your life like a free limo. And while all of that is true, it’s also a huge whopper of a lie.
What they don’t tell you, when they say success is easy, is that all those people were rejected. They didn’t get every job. They knocked on a lot of doors and had a lot slammed in their face. Or the door was opened and they got to talk to someone. And still got rejected.
The secret to success is the ability to take rejection and keep on trying. If you want doors to open, people to call and opportunity to drop into your lap like a luscious ripe plum, you need to put yourself out there. The real secret is that you need to be willing to try, fall down, and do it again. Is this easier when you have discovered your bliss. Yes. No doubt. Job addicted people like myself will put up with a lot to follow their dream. They’ll slog through mud and snow after it. They’ll wake up early and stay up late. And they will put a positive spin on each and every moment. Each rejection is analyzed for mistakes and those mistakes are fixed. And then they are at it again. Courting success means courting failure.
Oprah is a good example of a phenomenal success story. But even though I am sure she would say you need to find what you love and opportunities will follow, I am also sure she would say it was damned hard work. The bliss of having jobs drop into your lap is the result of hard work. Of making connections with people in your industry, of following up, of staying up all night to finish that project. And the hard work of taking rejection.
Successful people take those rejections and learn from them. What does that mean? It means that we see Stephen King as an overnight success with Carrie, but when you read his biography you can see he worked hard for years before he was successful. He paid his debts early. Took his rejections and learned from their advice. Kept submitting short story after short story and slowly worked up to his big success. I carry a vivid picture of him working knees to chin at a tiny child’s desk night after night, slaving away after working at his day job. His wife worked nights and they had two kids and as any writer with kids will tell you they don’t make it easy. I believe he would be the first to say successful people pay their dues.
When you hit it big. When you land your dream job, write that block-buster, sell that first piece of property you are on top of your dream. That first phenomenal success must seem like a trip to Disney Land. A week of fun and rides and cotton candy. And then you come home. Exhausted and a little nauseas. Back to the tiny house and the load of laundry you forgot in the washing machine. Back to reality.
And what does reality mean? Does it mean everything is easy and opportunities are falling into your in-box? Maybe so, but you still have to perform, you still have to work. And that leads us to another issue. What if the second book or the third book is rejected. What if after your first blush of success they don’t like your next effort or the next or even the third. That is when the hard work kicks in. You have to keep going. You have to continue creating whatever it is you create and keep putting it out there. It’s not that there isn’t room at the top, its that few people actually put in the work and make the climb. The people who reach the top are the ones who keep striving and the ones who don’t stop. The ones who actively take the risks and climb to the skinny branches for the next apple and the one after that. And the one that is just out of reach, but you can tell is the ripest, reddest fruit on the tree.
Opportunity is waiting for you. Pick each rejection up and examine it for truth. Cut out the parts you don’t want and keep what you do. Use what you have learned to fuel your climb and keep on climbing and reaching. The tree is full of purple plump sales, red juicy blockbusters, all you have to do is reach. And reach. And reach again. You may get have a day where all you pick is rotten fruit, but eventually you will hit that delicious sweet moment of fruition. Just don’t sit on your laurels and think the next one will fall into your lap. The rewards are waiting for the motivated and the brave. There is no secret to fulfilling your dreams, you just have to get out there and line up those rejections. And know, that each rejection brings you closer to success.