In 1973, Stephen King was a struggling writer on the brink of giving up.
He was living in a doublewide trailer in Hermon, Maine with his wife Tabitha and two little kids.
He was driving a worn-down Buick on its last legs.
Although he aspired to be an author, he hadn’t published any books. He was teaching English at a prep school – a position which left him little energy and time to write outside of school.
Tabitha didn’t have it any better. She was working at a Dunkin’ Donuts.
To make ends meet, King took on extra jobs during the summers, working at an industrial laundromat and as a janitor and gas pump attendant.
Hard to imagine the “King of Horror” cleaning toilet bowls as a janitor. But it happened.
Frustrated, King reportedly threw early pages from a new novel he was working on into the trash.
“I couldn’t see wasting two weeks, maybe even a month, creating a novella I didn’t like and wouldn’t be able to sell,” King wrote in his memoir On Writing. “So I threw it away … After all, who wanted to read a book about a poor girl with menstrual problems?”
Tabitha came home from work, saw the pages in the trash, and fished them out. She encouraged him to keep going. And he did.
That manuscript racked up 30 rejections from publishers. One of them wrote, “‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
But he kept going. Eventually, he found a publisher. Those pages became King’s first published book, Carrie, which sold over 4 million copies in paperback and put him on the map.
Winners Find a Way
There’s a simple difference between the winners in life and the losers.
The winners make it work. [Click to tweet.]
When faced with a barrier or friction or speed bump, winners find a way to make it work rather than making up excuses for why it won’t.
Stephen King had ample opportunities to give up with his first novel. But he didn’t.
I started thinking about this due to the responses I get from free email templates I give away on my website.
Over the past few years, I’ve built up a substantial email list (and business asset) of approximately 40,000 email addresses – in part by giving away these templates. (Also, webinars have been huge for me.)
An email list is important because it allows you to build relationships with thousands of people at scale.
Now, these free templates are very short. They’re designed to be used to connect with influencers and VIPs in any field.
I’ve tested dozens of different types of free optin offers and these email templates consistently do better than anything else I’ve tested. Better than free videos, better than free ebooks, better than free oatmeal raisin cookies (via email of course) or anything else.
I give away these email templates for a couple of reasons. First, these templates are what I’ve used to grow a multi-six figure business, develop relationships with key influencers, VIPs and bestselling authors and speakers all around the globe.
And I want my readers to benefit from these templates as well so they can grow their own businesses by building key relationships with the influencers in their respective industries.
The templates also provide a valuable incentive that is persuasive enough to convince people to part with their email address. Basically the templates build good will with my target audience.
And these templates also help me to grow my email list.
But… news flash. The email templates are NOT perfect.
In fact, they almost certainly will not work “out of the box.”
Because they are industry agnostic.
The email templates are designed to be broad so that almost anyone can use them in any field. The flip side of that equation means that they are not so narrowly drafted that any one person can “copy & paste” the template for their own individual situation without lifting a finger.
Nevertheless, I get emails from time to time from people which are bordering on incredulous as to why the templates were not drafted for their unique situation.
Don’t get me wrong. 99% of the time when people email back after downloading the templates, they thank me for the templates.
I love those emails and cherish them. I print them up and put them under my pillow at night.
But a precious sensitive few write back in a tone of almost righteous indignation. Like I should have crafted the email templates specifically for them.
Specifically for their industry and their unique situation.
So they, presumably, don’t have to do any work.
I could be frustrated by this. But mostly I’m just sad for them.
Here’s a few examples of these emails…
This person said my templates wouldn’t work because the specific language I used “lacks sophistication and refinement.”
This person asked for me to provide them with templates aimed at health care executives who work for large health systems to recover lost funds due to overpayments and errors.
This person said the templates didn’t work for them because they weren’t crafted specifically for “fiction writers.”
And this person wrote me to tell me that they found my templates “highly offensive.” (I’m still not sure why. I asked this person, but they didn’t write back.)
By the way, that person said they have been in sales for over 50 years. Do you think maybe “selling” has changed a bit in that time?
So why do I feel sad for these people?
Because they are giving up on something larger. They are effectively laying down their weapons in life and waving the white flag.
It doesn’t matter the challenge. Whether it’s getting a new client. Connecting with an influencer in their field. Forging a business partnership. Getting the sale. You name it.
If they can’t be bothered to customize a few free email templates so that they work for their own situation, what else can’t they be bothered to do?
Here’s another reason I’m sad for them.
They are also blind to what’s going on behind the scenes here. They are reacting viscerally rather than trying to understand what is happening beneath the surface.
They are blind to the fact that I’m giving away these templates (in part) to grow an email list. To build relationships with tens of thousands of members of my audience. Which is something I’ve said repeatedly they should be doing as well.
I’m walking my talk.
If they are blind to what’s happening behind the scenes, then they certainly aren’t copying my strategies, which is what they really should be doing.
Don’t Make Barriers Larger
I also think if they are working so hard to erect a barrier to why these free PDF download won’t work for their situation, I can’t imagine how hard they work to erect barriers in other areas of their lives.
Every little bit of friction becomes an impenetrable fortress.
Sandpaper suddenly becomes the Berlin Wall.
Imagine how much harder you could make your life if you did this.
“I won’t go to that event because I’m too tired.”
“I won’t print another resume because my printer is out of ink.”
“I can’t get that client because they don’t work with consultants like me.”
“I won’t email that author I admire because I don’t have their email address.”
“I can’t ask out that girl because I don’t know where I would take her and she would probably say no.”
“I won’t use these scripts because they are highly offensive and by the way I’ve been in sales for 50 years so nahnah.”
“I won’t read that book because it wouldn’t apply to my situation. And because it’s ten dollars.”
I see this also sometimes with people who email me to explain why they won’t be joining one of my courses. They talk themselves out of paying a few hundred dollars to join a course which could potentially earn them tens or hundreds of thousands over future years. If they show up and they try.
A person on one of my recent webinars titled “How to Make $1,000 Per Month Using Webinars” actually dropped off the webinar because the webinar was not specifically aimed at “singer-songwriters.”
When You Make It Work, Opportunities Appear
A few years ago, I sat down and spent a few hours reading the book Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port, which boasts that it provides “strategies, techniques, and skills necessary to get more clients and increase profits.”
I could have “talked myself out of” investing the time to read it. And sure, the advice was of a general nature and industry agnostic. It didn’t perfectly apply to my business (which was simply a small law firm at the time).
I could have read it and if I wanted to, I could have found ways in which the book didn’t relate to my situation.
But I didn’t. I read through the book and I found ways to make it work for my situation. I found ways to apply the ideas in the book to my business.
That decision led to some major leaps in my business and I eventually even became good friends with the author. We have even collaborated on webinars for each other’s audiences.
This doesn’t just have to do with relationships, which I focus on through this site. It has to do with showing up in life.
I prefer to go through life with a simple motto. Winners Make It Work. [Click to tweet.]
Pay attention to your own reactions in life when faced with slight friction or minor barriers.
Do you talk yourself out of why something will not work for you?
Do you give up?
Or do you find a way to make it work?
Whenever you do, make it work.