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Winners Are Not Discouraged by Impediments, Disabilities or Early Failures

By Thomas J. Stanley on Feb 4th, 2014 in Lessons Learned

In an earlier blog I profiled Malcolm who spoke with
a severe stutter.  After graduating
from college, he searched for a job
in sales.  Malcolm’s first 18 interviews resulted in 18
rejection letters; yet he was not discouraged.  His mother
told him to view each rejection as one step closer to finding a
job which he eventually did.  He excelled at sales. Later he was
made a sales manager and then senior vice
president. 

Malcolm’s story is just one of many that illustrate how successful people have dealt with the adversity and failure early in their life.  Take for example the profile of John Force, the National Hot Rod Association’s all time winningest [sic] driver.  According to an article in Autoweek, Mr. Force has won over 1,000 individual races and 138 tournament trophies.  But he didn’t start out to be a winner. 

High school career included being named starting quarterback and leading team to state record – the most consecutive losses 27

He was in the racing business for over 10 years before he won his first trophy.  

The first 10,12 years of my career like ‘Snake [a competitor]’ said, I was a joke, just somebody they called . . . ‘fodder’, somebody they would put in the show so [I] could get beat.

Mr. Force’s background is similar to the early experiences of a WWII fighter pilot.  According to R.F. Toliver, during Erich Hartmann’s first dogfight he clearly violated the rules of aerial combat by:  1. separating from his leader without permission; 2. flying into his leader’s firing position; 3. climbing through the cloud layer; 4. mistaking his leader for an enemy aircraft; 5. failing to follow his leader’s order to rejoin; 6. losing his orientation, and 7. destroying his aircraft without inflicting any damage on the enemy.  You might guess that this pilot was not bound for success or a long life!  Yet this is the actual record of the first combat mission of the Ace of Aces, Erich Hartmann, the world record holder of 352 aerial victories. 

The lesson here is to not be discouraged by impediments, disabilities or early failures.  It took 19 attempts before Malcolm hit pay dirt.  Ironically it wasn’t until Hartmann’s 19th combat mission before he earned his first victory.

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