I was at an event last week where my friend, Cindy, gave a short talk. She opened by asking, “How many times have you set a goal for yourself and the moment something didn’t go as smoothly as you had planned, you immediately experienced self-doubt and seriously questioned your ability and even the goal itself?”
She went on to describe two competing human drives: On the one hand, we are pre-wired to take the easy road, to quit when the going gets too rough. On the other hand, however, we are also predisposed to want to succeed and, through effort and sometimes pain or strife, we often find a way to work through difficulty, to overcome our desire to walk away and to emerge stronger for the trying.
Of course, I couldn’t help but relate Cindy’s topic back to networking. In my own experience, having had at least hundreds of networking meetings, though I always go in with high hopes and expectations, the reality is that not every encounter launches a new friendship, not every encounter leads to a transaction, not every encounter ensures and enduring, long-term relationship. In fact, I can think of more than one occasion when I left the coffee meeting downright downtrodden. Every time that happened, however, it didn’t stop me from looking forward to my next meeting –which often turned out to be an enormously fruitful encounter.
How about you? Have you landed a sale each time you had a meeting? Did you get the job following every interview? Did every pitch result in a willing investor? Probably not. But, think back to the times that you did land the sale. How did that feel? Remember when, following an interview, you received a call saying, “You’re hired!” – how elated were you? How about when you pitched your latest startup idea to a local investor who said, “YES!” what was your reaction? Don’t let negativity overpower these successes. Make note of your accomplishments and be proud. They will help to prop you back up when you have an off day, a disappointment or must deal with a difficult challenge.
Cindy closed with the following, “Every time you begin a project, start an exercise program, or go toward any meaningful goal, you must know that you will encounter a war. This war might be disguised as the people who tell you that cannot succeed, or the rejection you face, or the obstacles you’ll inevitably encounter. Remember, you were pre-designed to have a burning urge to retreat. Make no mistake about it, you will be tested.”
Indeed, as we seek to build relationships, we, too, will be tested. The moral of the story: Only through struggle and fighting the burning desire to quit can we ever have the unbelievable joy and ecstasy that comes from achievement.