You’re Not Making Progress – Now What?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was a Joe Palooka punching bag. It was an inflatable plastic punching bag that had a weighted base and a picture of comic book hero Joe Palooka painted on the front.

When inflated, you could punch the bag as much as you wanted. The trick was that, due to the weighted base and air-filled body, the bag would always bounce back up.

I spent hours trying to knock it down and it always bounced right back up. No matter how hard or how many times I hit it, it always bounced back up.

That’s the way you must be. It’s not over ‘til you win. When you have a positive attitude and a positive perspective, you develop resiliency – the ability to bounce back.

Resiliency plays a major part in turning a setback into a setup for a comeback. It is the ability to recover and adjust to challenge and change. The key is that you quickly recover from the setback and refuse to let it keep you down.

Failure Is An Event – Not A Person

Failure is a fact of life. We all fail periodically. In fact, the more successful you are, the more likely you’ve failed a lot in the process.

Failure is an event that happens to you. Failure isn’t who you are. Whenever you experience a setback, pick yourself up and get ready for the next event in your life.

Anybody who is currently achieving anything in life is simultaneously risking failure. Failure is often the first step towards success. If we don’t risk failing, we won’t get the chance to succeed. When we are trying we are winning.

The greatest dreams, plans and actions will lead to nothing – if we allow failure to turn us back along the way.

Remember that it isn’t what happens to you in life that determines whether or not you achieve your dreams. What matters most is how you respond to what happens to you.

When it comes to overcoming failure, you need to absolutely refuse to settle for unwanted results. For those who want to succeed, failure is not an option.

To be successful, you need to turn failures into opportunities to learn and become stronger in the process. The fact that you’ve failed is proof that you’re not finished. Failures and mistakes are bridges, not barricades, to success.

Get Up One More Time Than You’re Knocked Down

When I was launching my resume business, I had a hard time penetrating the college market at first.

It seemed that every college and university in the area had a Department of Student Services that, among other things, was charged with helping graduating students prepare resumes and other job search materials.

And as anyone who has ever been anywhere near academia knows, department heads are very protective of their students. They didn’t want some slick salesman coming on campus charging exorbitant rates for resumes. I got “no” after “no.” For a minute I thought my resume business was going to be stillborn.

So I changed tactics and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. I told them there is no such thing as a free lunch, that you get what you pay for, and offered to conduct a resume workshop for graduating seniors – for free. All I asked in exchange was that they simply allow me to put some of my marketing materials on campus.

They got a professional resume writer as a guest lecturer – one who could help their students get better jobs, faster, at higher compensation packages. And the college didn’t have to pay me a dime. That got their attention.

And me? I got tons of business – everything from student resumes to updating faculty CVs. And I got it from every college within a 50 mile radius of my office – because what worked on one campus worked on every other one in the area.

People Are Like Tea Bags: Not Worth Much Until They’ve Been Through Some Hot Water

No one has ever achieved genuine success that did not, at one time or another, teeter on the brink of disaster. If you have tried something and failed, you are vastly better off than if you had tried to do nothing and succeeded.

One of the riskiest things you can do in life is to take too many precautions and never have any failures or mistakes. Failure is the opportunity to start over more intelligently.

Experience is a hard teacher because it gives you the test first, and the lesson afterwards. Experience is what you get when you’re looking for something else.

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you’re knocked down. The best way to go on after a failure is to learn the lesson and not dwell on the details. If the truth were known, 99% of success is built on former failure.

Thomas Edison was working with a lab assistant who was coming up dry after over 700 experiments. Discouraged, the assistant told Edison that after all these failures, he simply didn’t think that the project was valid.

Edison quickly told him he wasn’t wasting his time and that the assistant now knew more about the project than anyone alive. Edison wisely observed that the assistant hadn’t failed, but instead had acquired an education as to what didn’t work. Needless to say, the assistant went back to his project with renewed vigor.

I’m glad he did. Otherwise we’d still be in the dark.

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Published: September 1, 2009

4 Responses to “You’re Not Making Progress – Now What?”

  1. Thanks for the great motivator! I've just taken the plunge and moved from potential Internet busines owner to getting my business started and online. Though in my head I am prepared to take the long road and work hard for success, that heavily advertised myth of "instant success" showing up in my Inbox everyday does take its toll. Your words will stay with me and I am grateful for the boost.



  2. I appreciate your article as it has encouraged me in my personal life. Very timely. Thanks!


  3. This is exactly what I needed to read at this very moment. As I face probably the toughest challenge of my professional and personal lives my days are filled with, "I should just give up now," but I don't because of the excellent content I receive in my email each and every day from AWAI.

    Thank you.

    Stephen Wertzbaugher


  4. Tom,

    This was such a well written and insightful piece.

    It takes a lot for me to take the time to comment on postings. But this one clearly deserved one.

    As I face down my own demons, it's nice to be reminded that this is truly the human condition. Trying... Failing... Then dusting yourself off as you ready to take on the next challrnge.

    I can't imagine that the "A Listers" had it any differently than we do as they fought off their own insecurities.

    This was a bullseye, dude. Kudos.

    Eddie Adelman

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