Back in 1994 I authored the first edition of my book The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret.  I was out promoting the book and trying to get bookstores to carry it.  Back then, one of the ways to do that was to go to bookstores and do what I liked to call “drive-by signings” (what can I say – I’m from L.A.).  A friend of mine said there was a local neighborhood bookstore that didn’t have any copies of my book. The store was literally on my way home, so one day I stopped off there. Then something strange happened: I couldn’t seem to talk myself into moving from the seat of my car—I was too paralyzed to actually enter the store.

I simply wanted to ask them if they would mind carrying a few copies of my book.  However, I just sat in the car, too nervous to go in.  I thought, what if they say no?  What if they say they don’t want the book but thanks anyway for asking?  It wasn’t a big bookstore and I wasn’t sure that they’d be willing to carry a book from an unknown author.  I sat there, too embarrassed to make any moves toward the entrance.  I swear I was this close to putting the key back into the ignition, turning it on, and backing out.

Then I thought, okay . . . if I don’t go in, what’s going to happen? I decided chances were pretty good that if I didn’t go into the store, absolutely nothing would happen and they’d continue to not carry the book. If I did go in and ask, there was a possibility they’d tell me they didn’t want the book and then I’d still be in the same position I was currently in.

But then I thought, what if I go in and ask and they say yes?  That made me realize that the only choice that would most likely lead to a positive outcome was to go in. Doing nothing would get me the same thing that I had now, which was nothing. So I said to myself, “Suck it up and go on in. This will be over in ten minutes. Nobody is actually going to get injured. There will be no hospitalization involved. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just a possibility of a ‘no.’”

I went into the store with a copy of the book and said, “I’m the author of this book. Some of the stores in your chain are carrying it. I live locally and I just wondered if you would mind carrying a few copies, maybe three or four.  If so, I would be more than glad to sign them when they come in.”

They said, “Oh great! You’re a local author! We’ll get 20. Will you come back and sign them for us?” I was like, yeah, I’d be glad to come back and sign them. So they ordered 20 copies and I came back in a couple of weeks and I signed them all. I remember thinking back, that the experience was sort of a nexus point in terms of rejection for me. I could do something or I could not do something. Not doing anything would have put me in the same situation that I began with, which was having no books in the store. Only taking the risk could result in success. 

This experience is one of the reasons I tell people, “Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from doing what you are excited about. If you are excited about your business, don’t let rejection stop you. You have to just know that when it comes to asking somebody to do something; some will, some won’t, so what?  It’s not the end of the world.”  For me, I just had to put myself in the frame of mind that what I was facing was simply not that big a thing. I now do this same thing whenever I’m faced with a situation that opens up the possibility for rejection.  I just tell myself that if someone doesn’t want to do what I’m asking, that’s fine. God bless them. I love them. It’s not that big a deal.

A good friend of mine, Dr. Mark Goulston, likes to say: “We have a lot less control over winning or losing at something than we do over trying or quitting something. Always try. You can eventually win. If you always quit, you can never win.”

When people give up, even in their thoughts, it’s game over. I make a point to remember that I may not be the most successful man in a room and I may not be the smartest man in a room, but I am pretty confident that I am usually one of the most persistent men in the room. That commitment to always trying has helped me succeed. I think it is one of the things that consistently helps anyone have long-term success. The whole process has to begin with the old axiom: if you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’ll be right.

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book can be viewed at www.BusinessNetworkingandSex.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.