A few months back, I sent the kiddos, husband and mother-in-law off to Disney World while I babysat the dog and got some uninterrupted time to work down at the beach house. One night, after getting off the nightly check-in call with the fam, I decided to watch the movie Saving Mr. Banks, the story of how Walt Disney convinced P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, to sell him the movie rights to the book. It’s a great film.
But one of the key lessons in it you might miss is the persistence of Walt in convincing Mrs. Travers to let him have the rights to make the movie version. In fact, it took him more than 20 years to convince her to do it. One of the keys to his success in convincing her was his unrelenting persistence and patience in wrangling her to stay the course. Walt actually had a ferocious temper and was stubborn as a mule. In the movie, you can see he restrained it (whether that was true or not in real life is left to be known, but I imagine it’s true given Mrs. Travers’s finicky nature and ease of finding a reason NOT to produce the movie). He worked on her relentlessly, using money as well as every psychological trick in the book – until he failed and she left Disney for her home in London. But Walt REFUSED to hear “no” and booked a flight to London, showed up at her door and delivered a final sales pitch that ultimately got her to go ahead with the film. THAT’S the definition of persistence. He didn’t call her, send her a letter or shrug it off as an impossible task. I imagine that had he not succeeded in convincing her then, he would have continued to pursue her until she gave in.
Failing, being refused and then going again has been a constant theme in my life.
I got my first job at an IT firm by showing up to a job fair for engineers, a stack of résumés in my hand, imploring the dozens of companies there to take a look at my résumé and find me a position – ANY position – so I could get into a tech company and learn the business. At the time, my entire work experience consisted of cleaning homes and working as a secretary for minimum wage at a frozen-meat marketing firm. I had no degree and hadn’t even finished high school – I was certainly NOT an ideal candidate. But I followed up again and again UNTIL I got the job at CGI Systems in the collections department, which set me on the journey to where I am today. I could cite dozens of other examples of such dogged persistence.
Very few understand this type of persistence and find it “pathetic” or “unprofessional.”
Some see it as begging and being a pest – and, I suppose, to a certain degree they’re right. But I’d rather be RICH and get the goal than polite and professional. The key thing to keep in mind is that refusal, rejection, failures and setbacks are only moments in time. They are not final. The moment of “no” passes, and the clock ticks on to another day, another week, another month, giving you another chance to try again.
As Tony Robbins often says, your past need not equal your future. From Dr. Nido Qubein, where you are only determines where you start, not where you’ll end up. All trite but true. Time moves on and we are all given the opportunity to show up again on someone’s doorstep and deliver another “sales pitch,” as Walt did in the movie.
My recent interview with Jack Daly gives more insight into crafting a life you desire and never giving up. You can listen to it here: https://mspsuccesspodcast.com/greatminds/