I found a very inspiring article this week in The Wall Street Journal of all places. In an article entitled “If at First You Don’t Succeed, You’re in Excellent Company” Melinda Beck explores the question: why do some people give up after the first defeat and others keep going? She quotes Albert Bandura (still teaching at age 82 at Stanford) who came up with the term “self-efficacy” which differs from self-esteem. “It’s easy to have high self-esteem – just aim low,” says Prof. Bandura. But people with self-efficacy “drive themselves hard but have low self-esteem because their performance always falls short of their high standards.”
Some of those people who kept going no matter what were J.K Rowling, whose first book was turned down 12 times before a small London publisher picked up Harry Potter. And the Beatles who were turned down by Decca Records cause Decca didn’t like their sound. And Michael Jordan who was cut from his high-school basketball team in his sophomore year. My favorite story of all is Thomas Edison making 1,000 attempts at inventing the light bulb before he succeeded. He said: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Think about this when you get a rejection slip or have to revise your manuscript. It’s just one of those 1,000 steps.