"85 percent of the time I try something, I fail." - Bill Gates
"I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
I was thinking to myself last night about the things that I don’t do; not that I don’t want to do them, I just don’t! I have had many classes, coaching sessions, and even motivational seminars tell me what it is that I am doing, or not doing! Yet I find myself reflecting on those things that those successful people around me are doing differently than I. I recently had to make a change in my train of thought, and who better to motivate me that than the two atop this email, possibly two of the most interesting, intelligent, and successful people in history.
It is a common thing to not want to try because of a fear of failure. I've seen that in many sales people. Many don't think they are good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough, and so many lack personal confidence in their own abilities. These are the ones who come and go. They fail mostly because they fail to try, and they fail to try because of what they believe about themselves relative to their environment. When I see a quote like the Bill Gates quote where he says something so strange as that 85 percent of the things he tries doesn't work, I think of all those sales people who lacked enough confidence to even give it a chance of success. If a person who has reached the pinnacle of financial success says he fails on 85 percent of the things he tries, that should be a good quote to carry around with us to remind us that if we are willing to try more, we can join the elite who win more.
What we focus on with Bill Gates is the 15 percent that he claims as his successes. We didn't really know they were only 15 percent; instead, we thought he was so smart and so lucky to have made all the right decisions and made them at the perfect time; that he was brought up well and that he graduated at the top of his class. Instead, he was a college drop-out, seizing an opportunity in business based on a dream of what could be and how he saw the future in his head. In other words, he tried; he risked; he dared.
History is full of very famous people that we think were successes all their lives, lucky beyond our imagination, and at the right place at the right time. In my study of so many of these famous people like Conrad Hilton, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Harvey Firestone, Alfred P Sloan, John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Thomas A Edison, and many more, I have found that they failed far more than they succeeded, that they did not get lucky, that they struggled many times, made serious mistakes, and more, but the common denominator among them is that they believed in what they were doing, where they wanted to go and they tried a lot of things, thinking not of the possibility of failure, but of success.
Many were like Bill Gates in that they tried a hundred things and eighty five of them failed. But they weren't really failures were they? Those 85 things brought them closer and closer to massive success. That is the single difference I have found among many famous and successful business leaders--they tried a lot, kept trying even when things didn't work out the way they hoped, and succeeded as a result. Success is so much more a matter of perseverance and belief than anything else. This can give us all a great deal of hope. It has changed my mindset and I will forever have those two quotes posted in plain view to remind me that if I am not failing, I am not trying - thus not succeeding.