Why People Fail

Originally, my title for this article was “Why People Fail In Networking”  After I got well into writing it, I concluded that this article went much deeper than why people fail in a particular kind of business model. I think you will see what I mean.  I don’t expect that everyone will appreciate this article but I promise that it will not be like every other article out thereabout why people fail.

Many years ago, I worked for a sign company in Long Beach, California. My boss was a  good guy and real character named Conrad Escalante who had patented a sign design that he called the Advertising Machine. It was about 2 1/2 feet high and 3 feet wide. It had a bright yellow, backlit  plastic face with tracks that held plastic letters. The entire perimeter was covered with light bulbs housed in an open channel. When you plugged it in, the lights flashed in a circular motion and could be seen from a mile away. We sold it, door to door to businesses all over the country in the 80’s. This represents the toughest kind of sales. This was long before sign ordinances prohibited these kinds of signs. These signs made it possible for a  store front merchant to direct a lot of attention to his store.  With one of these babies, everyone passing by would notice his store.

I was the Sales Trainer for the company and had the responsibility of training and inspiring sales people who, for the most part, were somewhat downtrodden and had been looking in desperation for a way to make money.  I discovered that most of these sales candidates were  good people who had failed in their previous endeavors. The main reason for this was that they were very negative in their view of themselves.  This attitude was always reflected by their belief that they had a series of “bad breaks” that had brought them to a desperate level of poverty.  Invariably, they saw themselves as a victim.  In addition, they had a tendency to blame others for their failures.  The real cause of this problem, goes much deeper than what one can see on the surface.  They had failed so many times, that they just knew that things would not work out well for them in anything they tried.  I was somewhat naive’ about this and believed that, at some level, I could fix them.but, 96% of them failed and left the company. Conrad used to tell me that salespeople have a 24 hour clock and that you have to wind them up, everyday.   I spent a great deal of time trying to do this.  I used concepts and slogans to inspire them. One of my favorites was;

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

― Henry Ford

While I agree that having a positive attitude is important, but what I have discovered is that failure is a common experience to all mankind. We fail at everything!  If inspirational quotes and slogans and positive ideas could fix this problem then 95% of those who enter the Network Marketing Business would not fail, because MLM is absolutely loaded with positive slogans and  ideas!

Think about it. Most people already know that around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The number is similarly high in many other developed nations. When you break that down by number of marriages: 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.  60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.  73 percent of third marriages end in divorce. Most people who take up golf, do poorly.  The attrition rate in real estate is astronomical. In fact, a greater percentage of new licensees fail than do new restaurants. Some 90% plus will not see their second anniversary in the business. The turnover rate in retail jobs is around 110%.  The failure rate for new businesses is so high that Harvard Business School estimates 95 percent of new businesses fail in the first year.   Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times (with an average of 11 job changes) during his or her career, which means a good amount of time is spent changing employment. Nearly Half Of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree. I could go on, but I am pretty sure you get the idea. It is interesting  that we always have great excuses for our failures.   It was our spouses fault, the company had an untenable environment, it was the economy, I had personal problems, they didn’t recognize my talents, the market was bad, the product stunk, there was too much competition, etc., etc.

I have identified two major reasons for failure.  There are others but these are the biggies.

1. What We Believe About Ourselves.

I have discovered, in my work in the State Prisons as a volunteer chaplain, that there is a distinct possibility that a natural physical function of the brain is to blame.  This physical function can be found in the brain stem, and is referred to as The Reticular Activating System, RAS for short. Most people don’t know that this perfectly normal brain function can be their worst enemy.  Let me explain.  The reticular activating system (RAS) is a part of the mammalian brain located in the brain stem. In human biology, it is believed to play a role in many important functions, including sleep and waking, behavioral motivation, breathing, and the beating of the heart.  In simple terms, it functions like a librarian.  Most of us have been to a library where they use the Dewey Decimal System.  First you look up the title of the book that you want to find in the card file, where you see who the author is, what the book is about and other salient facts. There are categories or classes in this card system;

The main Dewey Decimal classes are these:

000 Generalities
100 Philosophy and psychology
200 Religion
300 Social Sciences
400 Language
500 Natural sciences and mathematics
600 Technology (Applied sciences)
700 The arts (fine and decorative)
800 Literature and rhetoric
900 Geography and history

Each class is further subdivided at the hundred divisions and the the thousand sections. Numbers are placed after a decimal point to further identify material more specifically by subject.  How does one make sense  of a call number? Here is a sample of a book title and Dewey decimal call number. Note how, as we analyze the call number, each line leads to more specific information about the book’s topic:

142.780973 C826e  Existential America by George Cotkin   100, Philosophy & psychology. 140 Specific philosophical schools. 142 Critical philosophy. 142.7 Phenomenology. 142.78 Existentialism. 142.780973…About Existentialism in America (0973 at the end means history and description about America)  With this number, you can walk directly to the book in a large library with tens of thousands of books and put you hand right on it, no problem!

Ok, enough about the  Dewy Decimal System.  The fact is the RAS  works kind of like this.  This system has been operating in you subconsciously and relentlessly since the time you were born. It has made a “card” about everything that has happened to your  life. If when you were young,  a teacher, a parent or some other person with influence in your life said to you that you were a loser!  The RAS makes a card entitled loser and lists the emotional response you have. Then every time you are confronted with some stimuli that provokes this same emotional response in you, the RAS quickly goes and pulls up your loser card and reads it to you. Of course, more information is continually added to the card as life goes on.  This is why we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  Why we feel nervous, or anxious, or apathetic, or embarrassed, or confused and inadequate.

This RAS, and its little cards,  is what keeps people fat, or broke, or lonely, or lacking confidence, and most of the time we don’t know that this is happening to us.  In order to overcome this problem, we need to re-program the information held by our librarian.  This requires much effort and it means replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. It means reasoning with oneself and turning thoughts and feelings that lead to failure to ones that will lead us to be successful.  It takes time to overcome negative ideas about oneself that have been with you for a lifetime, but it is entirely possible which brings me to the second main cause of failure.

2. Character.

I wrote a bit about Character in my last post but I need to go a bit deeper with this concept.  The dictionary defines character as;

1. The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one’s character.

In its true sense, character is spiritual maturity.  It comes from honestly facing our own demons; pride, vanity, self-indulgence, envy, greed. sloth, lust, etc. Forgive me if this offends anyone, but someone who attends a Mega-Church that teaches that God wants you to be rich and happy all the time, is not spiritually mature. In order to overcome our passions, we need help, we need Grace and we need to struggle to be a better person. Most of you who are reading this will know how this is obtained.

The following is a quotation from John Chrysostom, one of the Early Christian Church Fathers and a story that gives an example of what I am trying to say:

John Chrysostom,  teaches us that it is not the man who has nothing that is poor, but the man who wants to have that which he has not got. One can have nothing and not be poor: one can be rich from the point of view of everyone who looks at our lives, and feel oneself to be a wretched pauper. We are rich only, then, when we absorb everything given to us in life as God’s gift and the richness of God’s love.

“There is a story quoted by Martin Buber that tells how in the eighteenth century there lived a rabbi in Poland. He lived in extreme, desperate poverty, and every day he gave thanks to God for all his generous gifts. Once somebody asked, ‘How can you thank God day after day, when you know, and know for sure, know in your flesh and in your soul, that he has not given you anything — how can you lie in prayer?’ The rabbi looked at him smiling and said, ‘You do not understand the crux of the matter! God looked at my soul and he saw that in order that I should grow to my full stature, I need poverty, hunger, cold, and abandonment; and in this way he enriched me infinitely.’

“This is a marvelous story, because we see in it a man who is able to believe God and love him, and to understand God’s wisdom through love, which is incomprehensible to the mind of the flesh. We see how this man in his utter wretchedness was rich — in a certain sense, already in the Kingdom of God.”

My hope for you is that you will be successful in all of your endeavors. Remember that true success is not always making a lot of money.  Sometimes our failures will give us a richness we could have never dreamed of.  Don’t get me wrong, money is important and Network Marketing is a wonderful business model whose time has come.  In my next post, I will talk more about the real opportunities one can find there. My purpose was to get you to think beyond just getting wildly rich! There are more important things and if character is not developed, in a true spiritual sense, you will never really be rich at all.


What’s missing in personal development?


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