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Beating the Odds

Answer This Question and the World Is Yours

By now you’ve heard the secret of becoming great at what you do.

The secret is that there are no secrets.

To become great you must keep trying after you fail.

It’s that simple.

Here’s what’s not so simple:

Why do some people keep trying while others give up?

That’s the great question, and one knows the answer. Is it a physical trait? Is it hereditary?

This is not just a theoretical question. It has enormous implications for colleges, companies and sports teams. Who exactly is the right person to admit, to hire, to draft? Or, for that matter, to marry?

As early as the first century B.C., Roman poet Lucretius took note of perseverance, saying, “The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by oft falling.”

Famed salesman Bill Porter never gave up. Born with cerebral palsy, he became one of the most successful door-to-door salesmen of all time.

Porter developed a mantra to help him cope with rejection. Whenever a potential customer said no, Porter would tell himself, “The next person will say yes.” This ability to persevere through failure made him his company’s top seller, and inspired a made-for-TV film.

Two reasons led to my fascination with the question of perseverance:

First, as a child I was easily discouraged and quit at the first sign of adversity. It took a long time to reverse the pattern and become mentally tougher.

Second, as a coach, I have worked with hundreds of athletes. Some give up easily, while others keep trying. Quite often, those who quit seem to have a great deal of ability. This brings to mind the article, “The Inverse Power of Praise” by Po Bronson.

People who are praised for their talent tend to shrink from challenges. They don’t want to try anything that might hurt their self-image. On the other hand, those who are praised for their hard work seem more likely to keep trying long after others have given up.

Is the nature of praise received early in life the main factor in why some people persevere? I don’t know. Maybe you will be the one to find the answer to this great question.

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Free Success Hotline! 24-hour motivation at (973) 800-5836.

Greatness begins with the way you think, and “Think Better, Win More!: How Sport Psychology Can Make you a Champion” will help.

To improve at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Champions Turn Practice into Success.”

Need some motivation? Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


2 comments for “Answer This Question and the World Is Yours”

  1. Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you provide.
    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once
    in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    Posted by Halina | January 31, 2015, 8:59 am
  2. Thank you for those kind words.


    Posted by Coach Tully | January 31, 2015, 8:56 pm

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