founder of naked leader

When do you finally accept defeat? – one of two

Naked Leader Week – 190 (w/c Monday 22 January 2007)

Last week’s NL Week on keeping going prompted a massive response, mostly with that one, repeating question, “OK David, I read what you write and I hear what you say, but surely there comes a time when the sensible thing to do is to simply give up.”

So many of you wrote about this I am dedicating two NL Week’s to it.

This week – An extract from Book Two – NL Experience

Next week – How “Giving Up” can bring peace to us, and is not a “wrong” or “bad” thing

The two articles will contradict each other, as there is no perfect answer – there is only what helps or serves you in life and what does not – so, you choose which of the weeks serve you, and it may be a mix of the two.

From The NL Experience

 Deluded, or What?

 “Lady Di could be bicycling nude down the street giving this book away and nobody would read it”…was a genuine review of Susan Jeffers, ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ which became one of the most inspirational and successful books of all time.

Sometimes the encouragement we get from other people in achieving our dreams is amazing, and sometimes, less so.

There is one question that can prevent you even starting on your dream journey.

It is the one I am asked at every seminar and event that I deliver. It is never the first question, because the person asking it wants to make sure they word it correctly. They may be worried that they are the only person who thinks it is an issue, and are waiting to see if someone else asks it first.

And no wonder it takes a while to come out, for it is the ultimate question. People will use different words; ask it with different attitudes, and with varying degrees of passion. It all comes down to

these five words:

“When do you finally accept defeat?

A brilliant question. Here I am, going on and on about guaranteed success and removing the fear of failure (and failure itself) from our lives, spreading the message that people can be anything they want to be, yet all the time, at the back or front of people’s minds, is this very question.

It basically says if you keep “trying” or taking action and you keep being rejected, or not moving closer to your goal, maybe it was never meant to be, or maybe you do not have what it takes, so maybe you should give up.

Come on David, we know what the question means, what’s the answer?

“When do you finally accept defeat?”

I don’t know.

I wish I did.

On New Year’s Eve, a snail walks up to the bar and says “can I have a pint of lager please.”

 “I’m sorry, we don’t serve snails in here, please go away” replied the barman.

 “A pint of lager, please” replied the snail, very politely, “in a straight glass.”

 “Look, “the barman said, now raising his voice, “I told you, we don’t serve snails in here, now get out.”

 The snail did not move, he just sat there waiting for his refreshment.

 Eventually the barman could stand it no longer. “If you don’t leave now, I will throw you out of that window.”

 The snail just smiled and said “a pint of lager please, I want to see the New Year in, in style.”

 At which point the barman picked up the snail and threw him out of the window.

 A year later, to the day, on New Year’s Eve, the snail returns to the bar and says “that hurt.”

What I do know is that most people give up, or dream smaller dreams, long before they have really gone for it – before they have really discovered what they can achieve, before they have awoken their awesome skills and potential.

Half give up at the first rejection or hurdle.

Half of the rest give up at the second or third.

Very few are left after three “nos.”

And many of these people who have stopped will say they were deluded to even have a go – it is their excuse for bailing out.

And of course, there will be no shortage of people around to support their view – “give up now,” “cut your losses,” “it’s not your day,” etc, etc.

“Keep the dream alive; because, you know, otherwise one day you’ll go ooh, could I have made it? You know, and if you keep trying, at least then, when it doesn’t happen, you know, you can go, at least I gave it a go, you know”

 David Brent

The Office TV Series

 Written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

The fear of failure can kick in very early – but this feeling is nothing compared to the disappointment that comes from settling for less. It is a disappointment that will cut deep for many years to come.

And when the failure hits hardest, these are the people who moan that life has got it in for them, when in fact, by giving up to soon, they have got it in for life.

This is all a matter of balance between on the one hand giving up, and on the other, guaranteed success. At the moment giving up wins hands down. Naked Leaders aim to redress this balance – for themselves, and for everyone they know.

I urge you to make true decisions about the really important things in your life, and take action.

I urge you to follow your dreams with passion and persistence, always modifying your actions until you move closer to your dreams. And the key word in this sentence is persistence.

So many people allow the negative influences and views of others to affect them and their dreams. The simple recognition that we can be so influenced by beliefs and behaviours that do not belong to us, is in itself a wonderful realisation.

Indeed, it can be a breakthrough experience, with naked leaders turning the discussion around to help the questioner achieve their dream.

At an event for new authors a chap told me his book had been rejected by over 50 publishers, and asked what I recommended. I asked him if he had any champagne in his fridge at home, cooled and ready to open. He said yes, they had a bottle they were keeping for a special occasion – I urged him to go home and open it that very evening, to celebrate the word ‘no.’

And I urge you to celebrate the word “no,” to rejoice, and be wildly ecstatic, each and every time you hear it.

Because when you do, you will keep going, way beyond where so many others give up. And as you do so, you are learning something very valuable, namely HOW NOT to achieve something, which is very useful in helping you find HOW TO achieve it.

I started a weekly column in Computer Weekly; after the first one was published my good friend Graham called me:

Graham “We are running a sweepstake on how long it will be before you run out of original material”

 David “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got plenty of columns left in me yet”

 Graham “It’s already been won”

 “When do you finally accept defeat?”

 I don’t know the answer to this question, but you will know how successful you are, by the number of people who reject what you are doing, or thinking.

But as I don’t have an answer, let’s take a look at these 20 unknown, totally deluded characters.

20        Marilyn Monroe…Dropped in 1947 by Twentieth

Century-Fox after one year under contract because she was


19        Billy Joel’s first album, Cold Spring Harbour, sold few copies. He spent the next six months playing bar piano under the pseudonym Bill Martin.

18        Jane Austen’s first novel, First Impressions, was rejected by a publisher in 1797. Her second novel, Northanger Abbey, was sold in 1803 to a publisher who never published it

17        Not only did Rock Hudson fail many screen tests before he became an actor, his screen test at 20th Century Fox was considered so bad that his audition tape was saved, and shown to others as an example of appalling acting.

16        Roger Bannister was a very deluded man – he actually believed a man could run a mile in under four minutes. Doctors even told him he would die if he attempted this feat. And guess what? Within a year of Bannister achieving his dream, over 300 other runners did exactly the same.

15        Thomas Edison “failed” over 9000 times before perfecting the light bulb! How many of us would have thrown in the “proverbial” towel at 20 failures, 150 failures or at the 8,000th failure. After Edison had invented and produced the light-bulb a reporter asked him how it felt to fail over 9000 times. Edison replied, “I was glad I found 9000 ways not to invent the light bulb!”

14        Imagine you are in the hot seat of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? And you’re faced with the first question, worth $100: According to the nursery rhyme, what did Little Jack Horner pull from his Christmas pie when he stuck in his thumb?

  1. a) a plumb b) a turnip c) a carrot      d) a blackbird

If you want to win $100 you answer a) a plum. If you want to win fame, fortune, appearances on Letterman, a brand new car and a trip to the Caribbean, you answer d) a blackbird.

That’s exactly what Brian Fodera did when he panicked and froze on the spot at the very first question! After disappearing with embarrassment at being the first person in the US to fall at the first hurdle, he became a celebrity – and all based on his “bad” experience.

(From How to Be a Celebrity, by Rosemaire Jarski)

13        Elvis Presley’s music teacher at L.C.Humes High School in Memphis gave him a C and told him he couldn’t sing (as I mentioned before, how many of us learned at school we weren’t very good at things, and how often we are proved right?). Fortunately Elvis ignored this…

12        Talking of which, at my secondary school our English teacher gave a very public zero to a boy who used The Beatles song ‘A Day in the Life’ as his chosen piece of literature in an exam. He gained his incredibly poor mark on the grounds that it was not a “worthy piece of literature”. Undeterred, my friend repeated his answer in his Oxford entrance exam and won a place. None of the rest of the class got to Oxford, probably because we concentrated on Chaucer…

 11        And The Beatles themselves knew about persistence. Before they were signed by Parlaphone, they were rejected by Decca Records, Pye, Philips, Columbia and HMV. After all, guitar bands were out.

10        Samuel Johnson dropped out of Oxford in 1729

after fourteen months and never received a

degree. After moving to London, virtually penniless, he wrote a book that told us what words mean! The man should have been locked up. I mean, who would ever have a need for a dictionary!

09        Huw Jones. We often think about success as meaning the person becomes “famous.” For this chapter I received many success stories that combine dreams, belief and total persistence from those who have achieved what they set out for, without seeking to be well known.

“I had lived and worked on Page 73 of the London A-Z for virtually all my life and knew I needed a change. It was such that I didn’t want to look back on my life and career and feel it had been too limited and one dimensional.

I wanted more, new challenges, new opportunities. Being a parent, everyone cautioned me to be “careful” and “realistic.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, other than it seemed to make me dream smaller dreams.

I now work in Spain, in travel, and have the life I always dreamed of. And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t stop there though – I have at least two more specific dreams (or ambitions) which I’m actively working on – but they are another story. Perhaps I’m just a serial dreamer. And I love making them happen, for me and for other people.”

08        The Bee. I know it’s not a person; however this insect is totally deluded, for bees actually believe they can fly! Bumble bees, according to the known laws of aerodynamics, should not be able to fly. Fortunately, bumble bees don’t read much about aerodynamics, so they don’t realise they are doing something they are not supposed to be able to do.

07        James Redfield’s “The Celestine Prophecy” was widely rejected but just before delusion kicked in, he self-published it. Just as well he did, for it has become one of the biggest selling mind-body-spirit books in the history of publishing, ten million (plus) copies later.

06        Cameron Mackintosh decided to produce a musical about felines at a venue (The New London) that had never had a hit. Most people thought him mad, and certainly deluded. Yet, Cats became one of the longest running musicals ever. A few years later, clearly not having learned his lesson, he produced another show, wait for it, set in pre-revolutionary France, featuring poverty, death and despair. How entertaining is that? It opened to very small audiences at The Barbican in London and almost every critic hated it.  Cameron would surely finally accept defeat, wouldn’t he?

I’m afraid not. Les Misérables is now the most successful musical in the world.

05        Anthony Robbins was thrown out of his home at age

17 and spent many years living in a tiny one-room

apartment. One day, when he did not have enough

money to pay for the electricity and it was turned

off, he faced up to his choice. Was he going to live this life (this “reality”) or was he going to make a different decision?

He is now the single most successful motivational speaker in the world, and he certainly no longer lives in a one-room apartment!

04        Winston Churchill was branded a “warmonger” by most of his British parliamentary colleagues, the media and indeed, many of the population of the United Kingdom. I mean, the very idea that this nice guy Adolf was going to hurt anyone, come on…

03        After years of rejection, an American novelist started a story about a teenager named Carietta White. Disgusted with what he had written, he screwed up the pages and threw them in the rubbish bin. His wife pulled those pages out of the bin, read them, and then convinced her husband to complete the story—which became the huge best-seller Carrie. Stephen King is now one of the most successful authors of all time.

02        Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island

for twenty-seven years as punishment for his

efforts opposing apartheid. That’s twenty-seven years. Yet he never gave up his beliefs about what was right, he never gave up his dream, and he never stopped believing that his work, or that of his supporters would not prevail.

01        You. Please, whatever you are doing right now, revisit what you most dream, desire and deserve. Perhaps it is new; perhaps it is an old wish, dusted off anew. It may be personal; it may be reconnecting with your partner or your children. It may be forgiving someone in your family, after many years. It may be to do with your work or career.

Whatever it is – please go for it, and be the very best that you already are.

And as you do, always remember, it will be those people who tell you that you are deluded, that will be the first to tell you, when you achieve your dream, “I always knew you would be successful”

And in answer to that question; “When do you finally accept defeat?”

I think I’ve worked it out:

When people ask this question, it often says a lot about their own minds, beliefs and fears. Deep sown, they want a reassurance, they seek permission, and they crave to reawaken an inner calling.

So, the “answer” I now give:

“Whenever you so choose”

One thing’s for sure, the 19 examples above are not unique, there are thousands if not millions of people who keep going, every single day, in all walks of life, and against all odds.

And so, next time you come up against a brick wall, will you bang your head against it, or kick it down?

Deluded, or what?

I choose the “What,” every time

So, are you going to decide to be the very best that you already are.

Or are you still waiting around.

Always remember, ships look great in port, but it’s not what they’re built for.


With love to you, whoever and wherever you are in the world




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