“Successful people don’t fear failure, but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from.”
Would it surprise you that the most common word to hear in sales is N-O? Hearing “no” is the reason to keep going – to strive for the top – not to quit.
“No” is a marker on the path to success and wealth. Hearing a prospect say “no,” means they’ve made a decision, and you can continue the search for a “yes” prospect. “No” keeps you hungry. It’s the reason to push yourself further. And believe it or not: “No” leads to greater success.
Failure as a success model
Imagine meeting yourself ten years into the future and finding out you’ve mastered skills you currently want to develop but haven’t. Maybe you haven’t learned them yet because they’re intimidating – such as scuba diving or skydiving. Or perhaps you haven’t had the time to develop those interests into skills because you’re too busy working.
Imagine your future self doing things you fear with great ease. Finally, imagine that your future self told you they got their success by being rejected.
In Go for No, author Richard Fenton tells us to embrace hearing the word “no” because rejection is the pavement of the road to success.
Most try to avoid rejection at all costs, and while we may fear it, when we embrace rejection, we are carving out our path to achieving success more quickly!
Learning to go for “no”
Fenton describes an anecdote of how selling $1,000 worth of men’s clothes changed his life. Proud of having the biggest sale of his life, he requested feedback from his manager. Fenton was surprised that the manager was not congratulatory or even excited that the sale had happened.
“What’s not to be happy about?” Fenton wanted to know.
“What did the customer say “no” to?” asked his manager.
“The man just bought $1,000 worth of clothes!”
“That doesn’t answer my question—what did he say no to?”
“Then how do you know he was done?”
This question was life-changing. Fenton put a spending limit on the customer without consulting them about their needs or limitations. He didn’t “go for the no” and lost the opportunity for a potentially bigger sale. Fenton thought of himself instead of his customer.
Lesson learned: Go until you hear “no!” Fear of hearing the word “no” is the only thing standing in between you and greatness.
The Five Failure Levels
The ability to fail. Everyone is included here. 90% of the people never make it past level one.
The willingness to fail. People at level two accept failure as a natural byproduct of seeking success.
The wantingness to fail. “Wantingness” goes beyond the mere tolerance of failure to developing a desire to fail.
Failing bigger and faster. A small percentage of people find out failing faster is better. So if one is going to increase their failure rate, they should go after big goals that one could fail big from missing.
Fail Exponentially. The rarest of individuals understand that significant success comes from the multiplication of effort. These folks enlist individuals to fail with them—since individual failure leads to individual success—in turn, group failure leads to exponentially greater success!
Failure is the halfway mark to success
People talk about failure as being a problem. Failure is a “glitch” or a “setback.” Don’t use euphemisms—call it like it is! The way to desensitize yourself to the power of a word is to use it repeatedly.
The willingness to fail separates successful people from the masses of ordinary people.
Successful people fail more often. It’s true!
Abraham Lincoln had less than one year of formal schooling. He failed in his first two businesses and lost eight of the ten elections before winning the presidency. Why isn’t this common knowledge? Because Lincoln is known for his successes as a president, not his failures.
Similarly, you may remember Babe Ruth for his record-setting 714 home runs, but did you also know he held the record for most strikeouts at 1,330 for nearly 30 years!
Thomas Edison—an icon of failure—once said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” But Edison wasn’t failing fast enough.
To find the right way to make the light bulb, Thomas Edison hired dozens of men of science to help him. These “Edison Muckers” were all less capable scientists than Edison himself but were hired to help Edison invent the light bulb quicker than he could have done on his own.
Setting “no” goals
“Success has ruined many a man”… so the saying goes. We are used to setting “yes” goals.
Imagine setting a goal of getting retained for two jobs in a month. Then, you have a great week and get retained for a job. The second week you get retained for another job. Now that you’ve met your quota, how do you plan on spending the rest of the month?
Richard Fenton’s experience found him playing golf and lallygagging around the house instead of working his tail off to get more sales.
Now imagine shifting your mindset to “no” goals and set a goal of hearing 40 “no’s” in a month. Even with two retainers in two weeks, you may still need to hit your goal of 40 “no’s,” so the potential of landing more retainers increases.
When you embrace something fearful, you come to master the task, and the fear will go away.
Celebrate success and failure
Each of us has a failure quotient. Our failure quotient is how often we are willing to fail before we succeed. According to Fenton, the single most important factor in what a person wants to achieve in life is determined through their failure quotient.
Lincoln had a high failure quotient. Edison had maybe the highest failure quotient that history has observed.
Reward your designers for the “no’s” they get from prospects because it’s their grittiness that brings them through the “no’s” and onto success, not their retainers alone! The path to success is paved with “no’s”—and gold is what you pick up along the way.
At the end of the day, the most critical factor in becoming rich is: If you’re going to fail, fail big. Seek to hear the record number of “no’s” to get the greatest number of golden “yes’s.” The biggest factor in becoming wealthy is: Fail exponentially. Great leaders help their staff fail faster.
—The SEN Leadership Team