Truth be told, about the only time I ever read "Parade" magazine is when I'm spreading newspapers to eat crawfish upon. But they did publish a question and answer session with John Grisham recently that made me smile.
In the article, Grisham commented on the fact that his first novel, "A Time to Kill", was rejected more than 30 times. He's saved those rejection letters for all of these years.
Some may wonder why an author who has sold over 250 million books would keep those letters. Surely the authors of those rejection letters have been proven to be fools several million times over.
While I can't be sure of Grisham's personal reasons for keeping that collection, I suspect that a stack of rejection letters serves two useful purposes.
The first is a reminder that the world doesn't easily acquiesce to our wishes. That said, the accomplishments that are the most meaningful and impactful in our lives are usually the ones that require the most persistence on our parts.
The ultimately successful person has almost always failed more along the journey than his peers.
Another possible benefit of keeping "souvenirs" of past struggles and/or setbacks is to remind ourselves of what it took to reach any level of success we may have attained. The old saying, "Nothing breeds failure like success," has merit.
Too often, folks tend to lessen their efforts once they reach a goal or certain level of success. The same person who before would not allow himself to be outworked by the competition starts to feel like he has earned the right to ease up. And maybe he has. Life isn't worth living if you don't stop to smell the roses now and again.
But when a person's efforts fall off, the fact that his results do as well shouldn't surprise anyone.
The successful manager who begins to eschew any work on weekends or maybe stops giving smaller customers the kind of attention he once did often learns a quick lesson. Remaining successful requires as much effort as becoming successful.
Wherever you are on your personal success journey, remember that setbacks and rejections are part of the ride. With the right perspective, they make you stronger and smarter.
And the work habits you develop while reaching your goals are the very ones needed to keep you there once you reach them.
As I approached the TSA guy checking boarding passes in Houston this week, I could hear the non-smiling jerk (that's a scientific term) asking folks, "So, where ya flying today?"
He would do this without a smile, while staring at the ticket. I guess he was going to catch the real bad guys because they…uh, don't read their tickets?
The older lady in front of me got a little nervous and sputtered while giving her answer. He raised his eyebrow and gave her a smirk. I gritted my teeth.
When I approached, he asked the same question. I remained silent long enough to make him repeat himself and look up.
I thought about asking if I had gotten in the El Al line by mistake, but I figured 1) he wouldn't get the reference, and 2) I'd probably be hassled long enough to make me late.
It was obvious the guy was just doing it because he could. The feeling of a little power is dangerous in some hands.
He's not alone. A female agent recently insisted that our shoes not be placed in a bin but directly onto the belt. She barked at us like we should know that. When I said "Did you just make up that rule?" she walked away.
The next week, one agent insisted on his own made-up rule that wallets be placed into our bags and briefcases, because he didn't want us blaming him if they went missing.
Apparently, he didn't think he or his coworkers could be trusted for the 15 feet and 20 seconds our wallets were out of our sights. Nice.
I suppose that using TSA experiences as examples of head-scratching behavior isn't exactly original. The point I try to make with folks in customer service sessions is that TSA gets away with it because "customers" have no viable alternatives.
But I also propose that the TSA-loathing that is rampant today is caused as much by their attitude toward travelers as by the actual inconveniences they subject us to.
I suggest that customers may never enjoy standing in our lines or waiting "on hold" on the phone. But most folks understand it usually cannot be avoided.
However it's the sense of urgency, competency, and courtesy we display that makes the difference between productive or destructive customer interactions.
Will the folks waiting on you today get the sense that you are appreciative of that fact?