Giving things “a good try”

I was talking to my dad the other day and expressing my frustrations with how the company has not grown as swiftly as I’ve wanted it to, but not for lack of trying. I tend to have at least two meetings every day with potential investors or clients. Although we have some interested parties we haven’t secured any deals because most investors want to see clients, and most clients want to see more features. It’s the whole chicken-and-egg dilemma.

My dad tried to reconcile me, and told me, “You’ve given things a good try” , as if it was okay to give up because I had tried really hard.

I know he was trying to be helpful, but I hate that defeatist phrase. It’s okay to give up on your dreams because you’ve tried hard? This reminds me of a conversation I had with another entrepreneur a few nights ago, where he said there is an unhealthy myth about people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and that their success is mostly due to circumstances and not largely to do with their own abilities. And something about how not every business is meant to be successful because the circumstances aren’t always right like they were for the heroic entrepreneur figures like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and whoever.

But here’s my take: I don’t agree these “heroes” are idealized more than they should be. I think they are looked at as legendary figures because what they did was legend worthy, and their “luck” is a byproduct of high intelligence and work-ethic.

Bill Gates isn’t just a product of being in the right place at the right time, with the right family connections. Bill Gates worked his ass off with his compatriots at Microsoft, and built a company that has lasted. Sure, some of his success is due to circumstances out of his control, but he was not the only person who could have taken advantage of those circumstances; many could have. But it was Bill Gates that saw the opportunity and was able to lead his team down the correct paths. And I believe that’s true of any successful person.

There is the famous story of how Thomas Edison tried thousands of different filaments until he perfected his electric lightbulb. That’s not the behavior of a person who just got “lucky”; that’s the behavior of someone who makes his own luck. And I think a person willing to fail thousands of times before succeeding would agree with my viewpoint that giving things “a good try” is not comforting; the only thing that matters is if, in the end, I succeed.

If I have to hear a million people say “no” until one says the first yes, then I will ask a million and one people, and there is no comfort to be had until I’ve done that.

I make my own luck by not giving up until I succeed, and that is why I will inevitably be successful.