What It Takes To Be Successful In Your Field And Make More Money
A friend who is a literary consultant, writer, and critic chatted with me recently about what it takes to be a successful writer.
“A lot of would-be writers,” he explained, “simply aren’t serious about wanting to write. They try for a little while but give up when they discover there is real work involved. I haven’t much patience with these people because they’re looking for a shortcut and there just isn’t one.
“But,” he went on, “I don’t want to imply that pure persistence is enough. The plain truth is, often it isn’t.
“Just now I’m working with a fellow who’s written sixty-two short fiction pieces but hasn’t sold one. Obviously, he is persistent in his goal to become a writer. But this fellow’s problem is that he uses the same basic approach in everything he writes.
He’s developed a hard format for his stories. He has never experimented with his material — his plots and characters, and perhaps even style. What I’m trying to do now is to get this client to try some new approaches and some new techniques. He has the ability, and if he’ll do some experimenting, I’m sure he’ll sell much of what he writes. But until he does, he’ll just go on receiving one rejection slip after another.”
The advice of the literary consultant is good. We must have persistence. But persistence is only one of the ingredients of victory. We can try, and try and try and try again, and still fail, unless we combine persistence with experimentation.
Edison is credited with being one of America’s most persistent scientists. It’s reported that he conducted thousands of experiments before he invented the electric lightbulb. But note: Edison conducted experiments. He persisted in his goal to develop a lightbulb. But he made that persistence pay off by blending it with experimentation.
Persisting in one way is not a guarantee of victory. But persistence blended with experimentation does guarantee success.
Recently I noticed an article about the continuous search for oil. It said that oil companies study the rock formations carefully before they frill a well. Yet, despite their scientific analysis, seven out of eight wells drilled turn out to be dry holes. Oil companies are persistent in their search for oil, not by digging one hole to ridiculous depths but rather by experimenting with a new well when good judgment says the first well won’t produce.
Many ambitious people go through life with admirable persistence and show of ambition, but they fail to succeed because they don’t experiment with new approaches. Stay with your goal. Don’t waver an inch from it. but don’t beat your head against a wall. If you aren’t getting results, try a new approach.
People who have bulldog persistence, who can grab something and not let go, have an essential quality.
Here are two suggestions for developing greater power to experiment, the ingredient, that, when blended with persistence, gets results.
1. Tell yourself, “There IS a way.” All thoughts are magnetic. As soon as you tell yourself, “I’m beaten. There’s no way to conquer this problem,” negative thoughts are attracted, and each of these helps convince you that you are right, that you are whipped.
Believe instead, “There is a way to solve this problem,” and positive thoughts rush into your mind to help you find a solution.
It’s believing there is a way that is important.
Marriage counselors report no success in saving marriages until one and preferably both partners see that it is possible to win back happiness.
Psychologists and social workers say an alcoholic is doomed to alcoholism until he believes he can beat his thirst.
This year thousands of new businesses are being formed. Five years from now only a small portion will be still in operation. Most of those who fail will say, “Competition was just too much. We had no choice but to quit.” The real problem is that when most people hit the TAR (things are rough) barrier, they think only defeat and so they are defeated.
When you believe there is a way you automatically convert negative energy (let’s quit, let’s go back) into positive energy (let’s keep going, let’s move ahead).
A problem, a difficulty, becomes unsolvable only when you think it is unsolvable. Attract solutions by believing solutions are possible. Refuse, simply refuse, to even let yourself say or think that it’s impossible.
2. Back off and start afresh. Often, we stay so close to a problem for so long that we can’t see new solutions or new approaches.
An engineer friend was retained a few weeks ago to design a distinctly new aluminum structure; in fact, nothing even resembling it had even been developed, or designed, before. I saw him just a few days ago, and I asked him how his new building was coming along.
“Not too well,” he replied. “I guess I haven’t spent enough time with my garden this summer. When I live with tough design problems for a long stretch, I’ve got to get away and let some new ideas soak in.
“You’d be surprised,” he continued, “to know how many engineering ideas come to me when I’m just sitting beside a tree holding a water hose on the grass.”
President Eisenhower once was asked at a news conference why he took so many weekend vacations. His answer is good advice for everybody who wants to maximize his creative ability. Mr. Eisenhower said, “I do not believe that any individual, whether he is running General Motors or the United States of America, can do the best job just by sitting at a desk and putting his face in a bunch of papers. Actually, the president ought to be trying to keep his mind free of inconsequential details and doing his own thinking on the basic principles and factors… so that he can make clear and better judgments.
A former business associate of mine takes a seventy-two-hour out-of-town vacation with his wife once each month. He found this backing off and starting afresh increased his mental efficiency, thereby making him more valuable to his clients.
When you hit a snag, don’t throw up the whole project.
Instead, back off, get mentally refreshed. Try something as simple as playing some music or taking a walk or a short nap.
Then, when you tackle it again, the solution often comes almost before you know it.
Seeing the good side pays off in big situations, too. A young man told me how he concentrated on seeing the good side when he lost his job. He explained it this way: “I was working for a large credit reporting company. One day I was given short notice to leave. There was an economic wave on, and they dismissed the employees who were ‘least valuable to the company.
“The job didn’t pay too well, but by the standards I grew up with, it was pretty good. I really felt terrible for a few hours, but then I decided to look at being bounced as a blessing in disguise. I really didn’t like the job much and had I stayed there, I’d never have gone far.
Now I had a chance to find something I really liked to do. It wasn’t long until I found a job that I liked a lot better than paid more money, too. Being fired from that credit company was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Remember, you see in any situation what you expect to see. See the good side and conquer defeat. All things do work together for good if you’ll just develop a clear vision.