Success is A Numbers Game


No one bats 1.000. It might look like some people do. But they don’t. Yes, some people are more talented than others and it might take less attempts to succeed, but they’re not going to hit it on the head the first time, every time. Like anything else in like, success takes practice.

Quantity then Quality

I spent a year in portfolio school. All we did was make ads. Day after day, I was writing headlines, tweaking body copy, and drawing marker comps. I literately made thousands of ads. Most sucked. But the 20 or so gems became my first book. Got me my first gig and started my career as a writer.

Creativity and ingenuity take time. Yes there’s the “Eureka! Moment”, but there’s also a lot of tweaking, thinking, and revising after that moment.

Delayed Success

It took the Mercury, Gemini and finally Apollo missions 10 years to finally put a man on the moon. They learned a lot from their failures – some deadly – before success. Took millions of dollars, countless man hours and a few lives to get a man to the moon. Even then, things went wrong – Apollo 13, I’m talking about you. And even then, we learned

C.S. Lewis was rejected over 800 times before he ever sold a single story. What he learned from those rejections has become part of American canon.

Built off the broken back of the Apple Newton, the iPod changed more than the music world

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

The more ideas you have the more the odds are in your favor that you’re going to hit a home run. So go ahead and write, draw, design everything you can think of. Some will not be your finest moments. That’s OK, you don’t have to hold on to them. Move on. Keep creating till you get to that place where you know you have something special.

It can be a frustrating road – especially if not one’s buying what you’re selling – cough, couch, Segway, cough. But then that’s just something you learn from. It’s up to you to how public you want to be with your “non-winners”.

Some people are happy with sharing every idea and don’t get fixated when they get shot down. Others self-edit till only the crème de la crème is going on the drawing board. And there are a thousand other mindsets in between.

Get Out Of Your Element

I honestly say, move out of your comfort zone. Share. Get shot down. Hell, get praised – it’s not always going to be bad news. Plus, putting yourself out there (win or lose) makes you about 99% better than anyone who just sit there and don’t say anything. Plus, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I’ve had my work ripped off the wall, discarded, rejected, edited into oatmeal, and once, even had it set on fire. And I’m still here. Still creating. Still writing. Still willing to throw it all out there.  And you know what, I still write a lot of stuff that never sees the light of day. But I’m really proud of the ones that do.

(Image via Berklee)

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