“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” – George Bernard Shaw
About two years ago I spent a night in the French Quarter with a guy named Chuck. I had met him at a friend’s house party the previous evening. Chuck was just getting into town, having decided to make the permanent move to New Orleans. Our host knew him from their days growing up in the same foster home. Fucked Up Chuck, he called him (though not to his face).
I learned before our meeting that Chuck had been a troubled kid from a rough background. He had issues. But we got talking at the party and hit it off pretty good. He told me he’d just broken up with his long-time girlfriend and was eager to go “pimping” soon, do the drunken rebound thing. He figured a lad from Ireland would make a good wingman, so he asked if I’d join him out on the town the following night.
“Sure feck it, why not?”
24 hours later…
I learned fast that Chuck wasn’t shy with the ladies. If he saw a girl he liked, he’d go right up to her and start talking. He was like a two-year-old at a toy store, interacting directly with whatever interested him, no hesitation.
Chuck must have hit on at least fifteen stunners in the space of three hours, mustering up impressive enthusiasm each and every time. He got nowhere fast with the first fourteen. But the last girl… Chuck had no reason to try again after her. They didn’t go home together, but she was definitely interested in the Chuckster. They got cozy in the karaoke bar and exchanged numbers. I heard through the grapevine that they went out on a date a few nights later.
Chuck succeeded because he persisted. Plain and simple.
I believe persistence to be important in business, too. You always hear those scary statistics about how many first-time businesses fail. Something like 90%. I don’t doubt those numbers.
But I wonder, how many second- and third-time businesses fail? I suspect the rate of failure drops as the try-count rises. It’s those people who pick themselves up and try again after each failed business who eventually succeed. They learn the hard lessons and get better with each new endeavor.
This is what I keep in mind as transition from 9-to-5 to self-employment. I have every intention of succeeding with my early business ventures, but should they fail, I’ll pick myself up and throw a few more attempts at the wall. A few will eventually stick.
What happened to Chuck…
That night in the Quarter was the last I ever saw of Chuck. I’ve since heard stories that he ended up moving in with a friend of a friend, never paid rent, brought home the occasional hooker, then stole the television and skipped town… but hey, nobody’s perfect.
I like to remember Chuck not as a fuck up, but as a guy who showed me how keeping your head high and refusing to quit will eventually get you what you want. Not once did he drop his head that night, in spite of all the rejection. He took it all in stride and kept moving.
“Not interested? No worries. Next.”
He just kept plugging away, believing that success was inevitable. And he was right.
Thanks for the lesson, Chuck.