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WD-40 and the Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Success

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Do you know why WD-40 is called “WD-40?”

It stands for “Water Displacement–40th Attempt.”

“Who cares?” I hear you wondering.

Well, the formula that accounted for over $300 million in sales last year…was successfully created only after 39 failed attempts.

The incredibly popular game Angry Birds was software maker Rovio’s 52nd attempt at creating something that would make money. They eked out a living for eight years and nearly went bankrupt before creating a game that has now been downloaded over 1 billion times.

James Dyson endured a staggering 5,126 failed prototypes before creating his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. It took another ten years of dogged persistence before he had enough money to start the Dyson company. It did over $200 million in sales last year.

Groupon almost died early on for lack of funds and interest. It’s now worth $6.3 billion.

My point is this: you’ve surely experienced setbacks in your pursuit of your goals and dreams. When you stumble and stagger get suckerpunched by life , it’s easy to invent excuses to walk away. If you’re around the wrong people, they’ll probably provide a few that you didn’t even think of.

But successful people never give into this temptation. They view failure as analytically as they view success–both provide invaluable data for making future efforts more successful. (Click here to tweet this!)

And don’t think that captains of industry had the undying support and encouragement of their peers when they began, either. At one point, just about any fantastically successful person you could name was considered by many an impractical, naive dreamer. (Click here to tweet this!)

No great council decreed that Gates’ vision of Microsoft was going to change the world of software forever. Nobody believed that Oprah Winfrey would amount to anything after running away from home at 13, following years of sexual abuse by family.

No, every great organization that is around today exists because someone, in the beginning, refused to believe that they couldn’t do it, and refused to let setbacks defeat them. (Click here to tweet this!)

So, if you feel you have a mission to execute and impact to make, know this: You’re going to experience failures. Some are going to sting. But they’re never an excuse to give up.

“Success seems to be connected with action,” wrote hotelier Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels chain. “Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” (Click here to tweet this!)

Maybe you’ll fail ten times. Maybe you’ll fail one hundred times. But, who knows, after months or years of hard work, you might just be that next story of “overnight” success that people marvel at.

 

What do you think about this view of “overnight success?” Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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