I’m not a fan of Kentucky fried chicken but I admire the man behind all that greasy chicken. Colonel Sanders was a master goal setter and never lost sight of his vision.
They say the Colonel was 65 years old when he received his first pension cheque in the mail. He took one look at it, saw that it was for $105 and felt angry. He had to come up with a way of earning some extra money. Over the years he had been perfecting a chicken recipe that friends and family couldn’t resist. He thought ‘I can work with this!’ He got in his old car, started to drive around America and approached different restaurant owners about his chicken recipe. Colonel Sander’s idea was that he would sell his chicken to the restaurant owners and receive a percentage of the profits. You can imagine that these owners took one look at the old man and told him ‘no thanks’.
Did this stop the Colonel? No, he kept driving around America approaching restaurant owners for 2 years! After 1009 rejections the Colonel finally heard his first ‘yes’. Someone had finally agreed to take his chicken on board.
This story makes me think about how many of us (particularly myself) can be in life in the face of setbacks. One, two or three ‘no’ responses and everything suddenly starts to seem all too hard. ‘Do I have what it takes?’, ‘Is this a stupid idea?’ and ‘Maybe I should try something else?’ are some of the thoughts that race through my mind.
So, how can we harvest some of the Colonel Sanders spirit within us? How can we remain strong in the face of setbacks and the word ‘no’?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Don’t make it mean anything: Often when someone says no to us or something doesn’t go our way, we take it personally and make it mean something. We create stories and reasons for why certain things happened the way they did. ‘I did poorly on that test because I’m stupid’ or ‘They said no because they don’t like me’. These stories that we create about why things have occurred often aren’t the truth, don’t serve us and can be unhelpful. Acknowledge the story that you have created and don’t let it distract you from your original intention or goal.
2. Focus on the positive: A school teacher once said to me ‘If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re probably not learning much’. Let’s face it, if you never attempt anything then you’ll never make a mistake, but you’ll probably never attain your goals! Making mistakes along the way and experiencing setbacks is all part of the process of attaining your goals. Setbacks provide us with feedback, opportunities to reassess things and readjust our behaviours. They also allow us to grow.
3. Have patience: I created a presentation really close to my heart earlier this year (Global warming: Too hot to handle?) and set a goal of presenting it to over 1000 students by the end of the year. I poured my heart and soul into creating it and expected dozens of teachers to invite me to their schools. The opposite happened. I ended up speaking to a science teacher who was a climate change skeptic and I was left feeling disheartened, naive and nearly gave up on my vision of educating and inspiring young people to take action. Luckily, friends and family encouraged me to be patient and stick with it, and it wasn’t long before I was delivering my talk to hundreds of students in high schools.
Even though I will probably never eat the Colonel’s chicken, I have to admit that I admire the man for his courage and determination. His story sends an important message to us all – never, ever give up on your dreams.