The path to success isn’t always a straight line

Home Column The path to success isn't always a straight line

path to successI’m a big fan of golf. In fact, it’s probably my favorite sport next to basketball. Some people might think it’s boring, but I can watch it for hours. Students of the sport know it’s all about attention to detail: the placement of your hips; the alignment of arms and eyes; the arc and symmetry of your swing. My pro golfer friends can watch videos, almost every day, of the most successful golfers on the circuit. They study their stance, swing and even their interaction with their caddies.

The great ones make it look easy, but they know the steps it probably took to get there. Consider pro-golfer Wyndom Clark, who recently claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. This was his first PGA Championship in 134 tries!

In 1998, professional golfer Casey Martin suffered from a serious circulatory condition that made walking for long distances very painful. He sued the PGA to be allowed to use a golf cart to navigate the course, arguing that walking is not an essential requirement of playing professional golf; he won the case and the tournament.

Another pro golfer, Derek Ernest, suffers from blurry vision and depth perception problems as the result of an accident sustained when he was a teenager. He went on to win a tournament in 2013.

So, what’s the point of these stories? They demonstrate the importance of perseverance—not quitting even when the odds are against you or when you face stumbling blocks en route to your goals. It’s a lesson that salespeople know all too well. (The general rule of thumb in sales is you might have to ask five times to close the sale!)

Whether it’s sales, professional sports or business, those who have achieved success and acclaim faced numerous disappointments before they reached their ultimate goals. They kept persisting for years and learned lots as they figured out their journey. Even though they may have lost many times, they didn’t give up on their dreams, goals or objectives.

Ironically, for many, losing turned out to be their best teacher. Turns out there’s lots to be learned from losing. What is a “fail,” after all, other than a “First Attempt In Learning?” It’s not only about looking at what you did wrong, but also examining what you did right and repeating those things. Each time you lose you will learn something if you work at it. Remember, there are very few, if any, successful people who rode a straight line to success.

Start by setting your goals. Are you looking to dramatically increase your close rates? Perhaps it’s a promotion you’re angling for? If you’re an owner, maybe you’ve been thinking about expanding into other product segments or locations?

Next, determine what needs happen for you to achieve those goals. What are you willing to do to increase your chances of success? A wise man once told me: “You’ll never reach the stars if you shoot for the moon.”

Remember this: Life is about the journey. Some may never reach the top in their field or their game, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your successes along the way.

What have you got to lose?

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at

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May 22/29, 2023

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