Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 as one of the seventeen children of Josiah Franklin. Though his father wanted him to school with the clergy, there was only enough money for Benjamin to go to school for two years. He had to continue his education through personal voracious reading. At the age of 12, Benjamin became a printing apprentice with his brother James who founded The New-England Courant three years later. Benjamin wanted to seize the opportunity of his apprenticeship to write a letter for publication in his brother’s newspaper but it was denied. Therefore, he created the fictitious name, Mrs. Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow, and wrote letters to the paper. Not only were the letters published, they became subjects of conversations in town.
Benjamin Franklin later achieved outstanding feats such as becoming one of the founding fathers of the United States of America but those are not the focus of this article. Our focus is that he did not allow a “no” to keep him from achieving his goal. Those letters written by “Mrs. Silence Dogood” are today valuable pieces of the American history.
Several people’s lives have been marred by the “no” responses they received. They have chosen to be discouraged and have given up because someone said “no”. You must learn that when people say “no” to you, it doesn’t mean you are worthless. It is an evidence of their slowness or outright failure to recognise your worth. If one person does not see it, another person will. I don’t know how long you have to keep going until you find someone who appreciates your talent; all I know is that you have to try the next person.
You think you are the only one who has been rejected? Try this for size. William Golding wrote his first novel, Lord of the Flies, and hoped to have a good career in writing. The novel was, however, rejected 20 times before it was published. Even after it was published in 1954, only 3,000 copies were sold. Amazingly, it has been adapted to film twice, was listed by TIME magazine in 2005 among the 100 best English-Language novels from 1923-2005, and William Golding won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983. I wonder what would have happened if he gave up after his 19th “no”.
Gone with the Wind, written by Margaret Mitchell, was rejected 38 times before publication in 1936. By 1937, the author had received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel and a National Book Award from the American Bookesellers Association. Gone with the Wind polled twice (in 2008 and 2014) as the second favourite book among American readers after the Bible. The novel was adapted to film in 1939 and it received 10 awards at the 12th Academy Awards, setting a record that took a while to beat. It also became the highest-grossing film produced up to that time and held the record for another 25 years. Can you imagine how all these would have been lost if Margaret gave up and kept the draft under her pillow?
The stories of those who persevered until they succeeded are the ones that inspire us; no one is motivated by the story of those who gave up. We may not be able to control other people’s reactions towards us but we can determine our response. Why should someone who is too blind to recognise your talent rob generations unborn the blessing of the gift you have inside you? Surf on the ‘No” until you get a “Yes”.