When Madonna appeared on one of Oprah’s last shows this week, that’s what she said we’ve learned from Oprah, “Never. Ever. Give. Up.”
Ironically, I’ve been gathering notes for this article for the last few days because this phrase has been popping into my consciousness a lot lately. A profile in MORE Magazine on first time novelist, Kathryn Stockett, The Help, carried as its theme, “Don’t Give Up.” Stockett received, amazingly, 60 rejections over a three-year period until a wise agent picked up her manuscript and proceeded to sell it in three weeks time! People told her she was crazy, to move on to something else. But, she never gave up. Ever. She kept revising, submitting, revising, and submitting. There are numerous stories like this, from Thomas Edison to Henry Ford, to Diane von Furstenberg, to J.K. Rowling, where the odds were stacked against success, and success still came after perseverance and tenacity on the part of the never-giver-upper, even many times what others might consider failure. After failure. Henry Ford said, "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."
And, then a quote from Hilary Clinton got me thinking about how, if you really listen to your own voice, we are truly meant to never, ever give up. She said, “Americans have always risen to the challenge. It’s in our DNA. We believe there are no limits on what is possible or what we can achieve.” This isn’t limited to Americans; we as humans have it within our code to never give up. There are likely times you can think of when you felt like giving up, or quitting when it because too much of a challenge. I know I have.
- The first step is to take the time to recognize the power of your own yearning and will to achieve, whether it’s a writing project, a new product or business venture, a huge dream to make a difference in the non-profit world, a goal to end an injustice that you’re passionate about, a momentous climb up the corporate ladder, whatever the case may be, being cognizant of your unending desire to make it happen is a big part of the success story.
- Change your mind set about failure, by referring to what you had thought of in that light, as a lesson to how you will do it differently next time. After every occurrence, or lack thereof, take stock of what you learned.
- Don’t get set on what the end result is supposed to look like. Your ultimate situation may look entirely different than what you imagined it to be. Be open to the magic of the unknown.
- Find comfort in the idea that time is not against you. I’m not suggesting you not set goals with deadlines. But, rather the bigger Time is always with you, in other words things happen in the right time, for you. If you can release the ticking clock it frees you to see an opportunity that you may be blind to if your eye is constantly on the clock. Imagine standing in front of rosebud and yelling, “Bloom! Now!” I know; silly right?
- Do it every day. Chip away at your vision, a little every day. Make a call, write a page, do some research, send a note, jog a mile, every day. Don’t let the ember of your inner fire extinguish because you decide to quit, if in fact your voice still tells you this is what you really want.
- Create a vision board or wish list. Be very explicit, put it away and come back to it often. It’s a simple but powerful reminder.
- Engage with like-minded folks in your passion. Sharing time and thoughts with those on the same journey keeps you in, keeps you fresh.
- Be like Nike. Just do it. You owe it to yourself to do nothing less.
And, Never. Ever. Give. Up.