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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Set Yourself Up for Success

n any venture we undertake, there is always the possibility of failure. This is the nature of the beast, if there wasn't a risk it wouldn't be worth doing. Making no-risk choices rarely results in lasting success.

So how do we avoid failure? Regardless of what we are doing, there are several common pitfalls we must be carful to avoid. If you have the right attitude about these obstacles, you can set yourself up to win and win BIG.

Rejection and Criticism

Who likes to hear no? Who likes to have their decisions, product, writing, etc. criticized? I can't blame you for wanting to avoid it. But the truth of the matter is that you will never avoid rejection and criticism so you need to learn how to handle it.

Basically, you have two choices. You can let it get to you and back off what you are doing. But if you really believed in what you were doing that just makes you a sell out. To be successful, you need to commit to what you are doing and keep chugging ahead. William Swanson, the CEO of Raytheon, says that if you are not criticized you may not be doing much.

Your other choice is to treat rejection as a success. This is classic Tom Hopkins training. His philosophy is that you do not get too attached to individual outcomes and instead focus on the overall results. There is no such thing as success or failure...only results. Both are valid, neither is better than the other and both bring you closer to your goals. That may be hard to swallow at first (every salesman prefers to make a commission over not getting paid), but the logic is that every rejection brings you closer to the closes (sales is a numbers game, you just have to accept a certain percentage of rejection). Additionally, you learn more from the rejection. Every rejection you hear allows you to improve your presentation and overcome future objections.


In my programs, I stress finding a mentor and being coachable. The easiest path to success is to model someone successful. Do what they did, think like they do, and avoid the mistakes they made. In sports terminology, I am talking about running the play the coach calls.

Negativity from Spouse/Family

This is related to rejection and criticism, but it is always more biting when it comes from the people you love. To overcome this, you need to understand the motivation behind it. You family doesn't want you to get hurt, pure and simple. But in order to be 100% certain you will avoid getting hurt, you have to take zero risks. You can't win. Understand the motivation, and you can move forward. They'll all be there for you when you succeed, and they'll have absolutely no recollection of their own opposition.

Work Ethic

I say it over and over and over, and I mean it more each and every time. Winning isn't easy. You have to work hard, and you will have to work through lean times when nothing seems to go right. This will require a work ethic. You need to put in the work, to do what you need to do to get where you want to go. There are no shortcuts, no substitution for hard work.


It may seem like a lot of jerks get ahead, but the reality is that they are the exception rather than the rule. 99% of the time, it is the person of good character who gets ahead. Being dishonest and cheating people is going to catch up with you.

Success is not built on your own. It requires you to work with people on some level. You cannot get away with being a jerk long term if you want to win. Character counts.


Even smart, talented, honest and hardworking people fail. Usually, it is because they failed to set goals. If you do not know where you want to go, you can't possibly get there.

Goals are powerful things. They allow you to evaluate your actions in the light of "does this help me get where I want to go?" If you do not have goals, you cannot ask that question and your efforts will be scattered. You may have a certain degree of success, but it you are selling yourself short. Having a goal and consistently working toward it also signals other people what you want to do. The clarity of direction means they tend to help you. If you don't have goals you are working towards, you will naturally fall in line with those who do. Better to work towards your own success.

Tom Haynes has worked with sales, management, and not-for-profit for companies, helping their staff set goals, increase productivity, exceed expectations, and manage their human resources. He is the owner of, a site dedicated to success, motivation, happiness, entrepreneurship, and wealth. Visit today for a free copy of Napoleon Hill's classic "Think and Grow Rich"

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