Perseverance – The Recipe to Success
By Doug Dickerson
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are no “over-night” successes. The path to success is rewarding, but at times long and lonely. Consider Walt Disney, he was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. How about Babe Ruth? He is considered by sports historians to be the greatest baseball player of all time, and until recent years, held the record for the most homeruns. However, he holds the record for the most strikeouts.
While there are many roadmaps to success and each one is different in terms of strategy, objectives, business plans, etc. there remain core principles that will always be found in the DNA of any successful person.
I read an account of the struggles and success of Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame that I’d like to share with you. Colonel Harland Sanders is a profile in perseverance. Born in 1890, his father died when he was just 6 years old. Sanders picked up the art of cooking at an early age and had mastered many dishes by the age of 7. During his early years, Sanders worked different odd jobs such as a farm-hand, streetcar conductor, soldier, fireman, self-taught lawyer, insurance salesman, and steamboat conductor.
At the age of 40, he was cooking for travelers out of his service station. His cooking fame spread and soon there were huge lines for his food. During this time, Sanders also began tinkering with his special herbs and spices to make the perfect fried chicken. It was during this time that Sanders also reached a trademark for his 11 herbs and spices.
By 1950, Sanders is 60 years old and has to shut down his restaurant business because a new highway was being built where his restaurant was located. He retired and lived off the $105 in the form of social security checks. Not wanting to accept this as his fate, he decided to franchise his chicken at the age of 65.
Legend has it that Sanders heard 1009 “no’s” before he heard his first “yes” as he traveled by car to different restaurants and cooked his fried chicken for restaurant owners. If they liked the chicken, they would enter into a handshake agreement to sell the chicken.
By 1964, Sanders had 600 franchises selling his trademark chicken. At the age of 75, it’s said that Sanders sold the franchise for a finger- lickin’ $15 million. In 1976, the Colonel was the world’s second most recognizable celebrity.
Sanders illustrates for us that the price of success is paid with perseverance and belief in a cause or product that you are willing to sacrifice for. Sanders demonstrates three possibilities of perseverance.
First, consider the possibility of risk. Sanders learned a trade at an early age and had time to perfect it over the years. As he took to the highways to sell the franchise, he was willing to take the risk. Successful persons have always been risk takers. Unsuccessful persons have also been risk takers. What’s the difference in the two? One persevered longer than the other. The successful person knocked on more doors, made more calls, and in the end, stayed with the dream longer.
Second, consider the possibility of rejection. Sanders is but one example of a risk taker who stood strong in the face of rejection. More than a thousand times, Sanders heard the voice of rejection as he attempted to market his chicken to unsuspecting restaurant owners. With determination that would have easily discouraged others, he models the possibilities of risk takers who refuse to take no for an answer.
Finally, consider the possibility of reward. It’s easy to imagine how Sanders felt on rejections 5, 10, 500, and 1,009. Consider how he felt when he finally heard the voice of fellow risk taker number 1010 say yes. All those long days had finally paid off when a restaurateur taker joined the cause.
Sanders’ success is the story of our success. It’s one of perseverance and determination if we are willing to stick with it longer than the next person.
Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Be encouraged as you pursue your dreams, success is much closer today than it was yesterday. Don’t give up.
© 2009 Doug Dickerson