I recently began reading a biography about a political figure I knew nothing about. The book is Calvin Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. Our 30th president was born into a farming family that was not wealthy but they believed that success was a result of hard work and showing up every day. Calvin was a “C” student and an introvert (read geek) who, like most of us experienced a range of failures. Let’s see how this average person made it to the White House.
Shlaes explains, “Coolidge himself identified perseverance as the key to that triumph. He is quoted as saying, ‘If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me, I cannot see any way in which I would have ever made progress.’ In that same vein, students of Coolidge erroneously quote Calvin as writing:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.
Regardless of who penned that paragraph, their words spoke to me. When I was launching my business, I had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t the best writer on the planet, that everyone else likely surpassed my SAT scores and that my competitors were all Suma Cum Laude graduates from Harvard or Yale. That said, I crossed my fingers and launched my business. Before long, I successfully I built my business with interesting clients who appreciated my writing skills. I wrote three books for the publisher, Arcadia, published a Chamber magazine, provided Hearst with cover stories and served as ghost writer for a pharmaceutical CEO.
As a solo entrepreneur, I wear many hats: president, writer, salesman and janitor. The most challenging part of that equation is not being the janitor, but rather marketing. Often, when I hear NO, I assume that means forever, rather than JUST NOT NOW. These days, I am revising my thinking and adopting the “not now” concept. With Calvin in mind, I am becoming more persistent!