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Successful People Hear the Most No’s

We often look at successful people and authors and assume everything came easily to them. What we fail to see is the journey they took to get there. The truth is, to get to any level of success, those people are hearing no over and over and over again. In fact, to this day, they are still hearing the word no.

The way to achieve true success in any aspect of your life is to embrace no. I didn’t get where I am today without hearing it at least a bajillion times. In fact, I have books that before selling received close to 20 nos. Some of my best selling books in fact.

I have authors who heard the word no not just on the book they sold, but on a number of books before they sold. I have represented multiple books from a client that were never sold before finding the magical one that did.

No is an integral part of success. I’ve heard no from authors who passed on my offer of representation, from editors on books I had fallen completely in love with, and from agents I thought might be a good fit for BookEnds. While a no can slow me down, never has it stopped me. If it had I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.

The more successful a person is the more they’ve heard no. It means they’ve taken more chances, tried again, and not given up. The real secret to success isn’t that first win, it’s all the nos you heard to get there.

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5 comments

  1. A number of years ago you challenged blog readers to participate along with you on a “no” challenge (I can’t remember what you called it, sorry). I joined in and found myself getting braver as the month progressed.

    While I have always had broad shoulders for things like rejections, I think participating in that challenge and the change in headspace to receiving a no from that, has really helped being in the trenches.

    So thank you again, Jessica.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. It encourages me to keep plugging away at my writing with the goal of someday getting published. Someday, I’ll have an agent and/or publisher who will fall in love with what I’ve written.

    1. Such a good reminder. In the rest of my life, I’ve powered through decades of political refusal and heard “no” on issues that meant life, livelihood & safety to myself and other LGBTQ Idahoans. There is no doubt it made me more determined. The personal nature of writing makes me self conscious and hesitant to believe that “no” is not a comment on the value of what I have to say and the power of the story I tell to say it.

  3. This is valid for the Stoics as well, who I have assisted with advocating. It’s simply conceivable to expound on the very fruitful ones — the rulers and the essayists, the writers and the generals — because those are the ones whose names were scratched into the record.

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