Are You Willing to Get Your Nose Bloodied?

 “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” – Albert Camus

If you want to win a boxing match, you must be willing to go after your opponent and risk getting your nose bloodied. I know from experience that this is true. I spent a couple of years boxing in a professional gym. (Although I could last three rounds with some of the guys, I wasn’t close to being ready to be a professional.) What I learned was that no matter how formidable your challenger seemed, if you weren’t willing to face him and take a chance that you’d get hit while throwing your own punches, you had NO CHANCE.

Getting a bloody nose isn’t fun. But you know what’s worse? Letting life pass you by because you’re afraid. They say that some of the saddest words on earth are “what could’ve been.” The world is filled with people who look back and are sorry they didn’t take a chance. It’s time to make sure you aren’t one of them.

I’m not talking, here, about literally getting your nose bloodied. I’m talking about something I refer to in my Dare to Live Your Dreams program as “The Bloody Nose”principle, which works in almost every business or social situation. For example, if you are starting a new business and trying to find a supplier who will give you credit, you may encounter some who just tell you, flat out, “no.” And a “no” can be just as discouraging as a punch in the face.

Lots of people are afraid to put themselves out there – afraid to get that bloody nose. If you’re letting fear of that pain get in the way of achieving your dreams, remember this:

Although a bloody nose initially hurts, the pain subsides. And before you know it, you’re ready to try again!

Before I got married, the usual method my friends and I used to meet women was to go to nightclubs. Back then, we were all terrible at it – and I was the worst. When I saw someone I would like to meet, I would hover nearby for a long time, hoping to get a sign of encouragement from her. My guess is that, most of the time, the object of my interest was either completely unaware of me or not terribly impressed with my lack of assertiveness. Anyway, I would finally summon up enough courage to go over and blurt out some kind of opening line. Every now and then, I lucked into a positive response, but it was mostly all quick rejections.

At one point, I had an epiphany of sorts: The major reason I had so much trouble in the dating department was that I wasn’t really trying. And I wasn’t really trying because I wasn’t willing to take the chance of rejection (a bloody nose).

Once I realized that I could tolerate the pain of a rejection – that though it would sting for a few moments, I would soon feel okay and be ready to try again – I was no longer afraid of it. And from then on, I was able to commit myself 100 percent to each one of my attempts.

I actually became very adept at meeting women in nightclubs. (In fact, that’s how I met my wife!) And my friends were mystified. Some of them were arguably better looking, yet they continued to strike out, night after night.

The reason these guys were failing is simple. They were so afraid of getting bloodied that even when they did muster up the guts to approach a woman, they did it without any self-confidence. They’d make a half-hearted effort… and would get shot down. The fear of getting hurt, coupled with a lack of enthusiasm and commitment, was preventing them from meeting the woman of their dreams.

Fear of getting rejected is common in the business world, too. And it’s the same story: You have to face up to that rejection in order to find success.

Take me, for instance. When people hear that I’ve sold or optioned about half a dozen screenplays and that I’ve signed a deal to executive-produce a comedy television show with one of the largest producers in Los Angeles, it sounds like I’ve had a lot of success. And it’s true. I have been blessed with more success than many people see in a lifetime. But I’ve pitched my screenplays at least 800 times. And if I’ve had six successes out of 800 pitches, that means 794 people told me “no.”

Okay, I admit it. Even after hearing “no” 794 times, I still didn’t like it. But hearing “no” 794 times was most definitely worth the six times I heard “yes”!

Every time someone passed on one of my scripts, it hurt. It didn’t matter to me if they said they liked my writing … or if they explained that they couldn’t produce my script because it was too much like something else they were doing. It felt the same as if I had approached a woman at a nightclub and she politely explained that she couldn’t dance with me because she had a boyfriend. The “no” never feels good.

But to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “If you want to succeed, you must decide how much pain you are willing to endure to achieve that success.” Because I will tell you this: Whenever I got a “yes” from a woman who agreed to dance with me, I forgot about every previous “no” I’d heard that night. And because of the handful of producers who signed contracts with me and paid me money for my screenplays, I don’t have the slightest bit of pain regarding my 794 rejections.

So if you want to start moving ahead and living your dreams, here is what you have to do:

1. Create a schedule to execute your plan.

For a plan to work, you need to break it down into specific actions. You also need to create a deadline for completing each one of those actions – and to mark those deadlines on a calendar.

2. Mentally prepare yourself for the “bloody noses” you may endure along the way.

Just like all successful people in history – including Thomas Edison, who reportedly made 10,000 failed attempts before finally inventing the light bulb – you’ll likely have a few setbacks on your journey to living your dreams. By accepting in advance that those setbacks will come, you will be prepared to endure the emotional pain.

When a boxer gets into the ring, no matter how sure he is that he’s going to win, he knows he’s going to take some punches. The reason he steps into that ring is that he wants the victory so much he doesn’t care if he gets hit a few times to get it. Regardless of what your dream is, you’ve got to feel the same way.

3. Have a recuperation strategy.

When I get a pass on script, I take a few minutes to relax and congratulate myself for being one rejection closer to my next sale. By the time I’m finished with this little ritual, the sting is gone and I am more determined than ever to succeed.

You can use any approach that works for you while you’re “licking your wounds.” The important thing is to have a way to reinvigorate yourself and give you the strength to press on. Most important, get out there and do SOMETHING to achieve your goals. Don’t let fear of rejection or pain or failure stand in your way.

By being willing to get your “nose bloodied,” you’ll have the edge over those who want to live their dreams but aren’t ready to pay the price. And that edge is what will make you successful.

[Ed. Note: Paul Lawrence truly is living his dreams. He is a produced screenwriter who has written a multimillion-dollar film. He’s signed a development deal with one of the entertainment industry’s largest producers to executive-produce a television show, has sold another feature film script slated for a 2007 theatrical release, and is the president of a successful direct-mail company.

Learn about Paul’s “Dare to Live Your Dreams” program here.]