“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” George Lorimer
You’ve heard people say, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” Now you might think that’s a nice, cute statement, but it’s actually true.
In the late 90’s, the “Los Angeles Times” surveyed 120 top performers in business, sports, politics, entertainment, and academia. The one characteristic all these winners had in common is that they PERSISTENTLY worked to reach the top.
The life story of Orville Redenbacher, the late popcorn king, is a classic example of such persistence. He was 63 years old before he convinced supermarket buyers that their customers would pay double for his premium popcorn. But let me give you the rest of the story.
Orville began raising popping corn as a 4-H project 50 years earlier on his father’s Indiana farm. And then over the years, as a county agricultural agent, a farm manager, and as an owner of an agricultural company, Redenbacher continued experimenting with various hybrid popping corns and fertilizers. He tried to improve on a formula that had remained virtually the same since the Iroquois Indians had introduced popping corn to colonialists 250 years earlier.
Finally, he came up with a variety of corn that, when popped, was lighter and fluffier than the standard store-bought variety. Then he learned how to dry it slowly, to assure that every kernel would pop.
That was just the beginning. Orville spent the next four years driving through Indiana and Illinois … seeking farmers who would grow the corn … and retailers who would sell it. A year later, a Chicago marketing firm convinced him to put his photograph on the label and to change the name from “Red Box” to “Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn.”
He thought it was absurd advice. After all, who would want to buy a jar of popcorn with a picture of an old man on the label? But he gave it a try, sending a case of the newly labeled corn to the manager of the gourmet food department at Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago. She loved it and ordered a truck full, asking Redenbacher to be on hand to autograph jars as they sold.
“Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn” became the world’s leading popping corn. Asked about his philosophy of life, Redenbacher replied, “Never be satisfied. Be stubborn. And be persistent.”
As the “Los Angeles Times” indicates, as Redenbacher proves, PERSISTENCE is one of the most important ingredients in the formula for success. So you might be wondering HOW you can get that kind of persistence into your life and into your career. Simple. Just follow my “7-Day Mental Diet” as found in my book called, “PIVOT” How One turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” And for a limited time only, it’s on special.
Let me give you two strategies for persistence right now.
First, USE THE LANGUAGE OF INCLUSION.
To a great extent, your attitude, your performance, and your persistence are influenced by the words you speak. And all too many people use a negative language that destroys their persistence. Let me explain.
Ask a child who has visited Disney World what he thinks about it, and he’ll probably say, “It was great!” He’s speaking the positive. And he’s telling you the way IT IS. According to J. Mitchell Perry and Scott Jamison in their book, “In The Zone: Achieving Optimal Performance In Business,” the child is speaking the language of INCLUSION.
By contrast, ask the child’s parent what he thinks about Disney World, and he may say, “It wasn’t too bad… It wasn’t as crowded as I expected… and… the prices weren’t too steep.” The parent is speaking the negative and telling you the way IT ISN’T. He’s using the language of EXCLUSION, a language that destroys persistence. As Perry and Jamison indicate, it is “the vocabulary of doubt, absence, omission, equivocation, and diminution. It is the language of hesitancy, anxiety, and fear and will tell you what isn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, can’t, and won’t.”
Take a look at these examples. And see where you tend to fall. If you’re a PERSISTENT peak performer, you tend to use the language of INCLUSION.
You tend to say, “I feel good” instead of “I can’t complain.”
You tend to say, “I’m pleased” instead of “I couldn’t ask for more.”
You tend to say, “Let’s do it” rather than “I don’t see why not.”
You tend to say, “It’s a pleasure” instead of “No problem.”
And you tend to say, “Let’s do it” instead of “Why don’t we…”
Second, CHOOSE YOUR REACTIONS.
As I said on the CBS Early Show a few weeks ago, no one gave you a bad attitude, and no one can take it away. Likewise, no one can give you a good attitude. It’s a choice you make.
In a similar sense, your PERSISTENCE — or lack of it — is the result of the choices you make. If you choose a positive reaction to a situation, you will remain persistent. But if you choose a negative reaction, you will give up. It’s that simple.
Jerry, a restaurant manager, illustrated that point. In fact several of you sent me a copy of his story. Here it is.
Jerry, was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would always reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”
Many of the waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he changed jobs, so they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious. So, one day, I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! No one can be a positive person all the time. How do you do it?”
Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘I have two choices today: I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I always choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life.”
“But it’s not always that easy,” I protested.
“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. It’s your choice how you live your life.”
Several years later, I heard that Jerry accidentally did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business: he left the back door of his restaurant open one morning and was robbed by three armed men. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Want to see my scars?”
I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared?” I asked. Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, there was a big nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.” “Yes,” I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, “Bullets!” Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”
Jerry lived … thanks to the skill of his doctors … but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day you have the choice to either enjoy your life or to hate it. The only thing that is truly yours — that no one can control or take from you — is your attitude, so if you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier.
Action: Get some feedback. Ask people you work with or live with to examine your use of language. Give them the examples of Inclusive and Exclusive language used above. And ask them which style of language they hear coming out of your mouth more often.