Careers & Employment Information

Fact or Opinion?

"You ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck." What if Elvis believed this Grand Ole Opry manager's critique after his l954 performance? Or the Beatles listened in 1962 when Decca Recording Company responded, "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out."

What if Rudyard Kipling quit writing when the San Francisco Examiner told him, "I'm sorry, but you just don't know how to use the English language." Or as a struggling artist, Walt Disney took seriously the words of a prospective employer to "try another line of work" because he "didn't have any creative, original ideas."

What if ten year old Albert Einstein believed his teacher's words, "you will never amount to much." Or opera star, Enrico Caruso, gave up singing after his first vocal teacher counseled, "your voice sounds like wind whistling through a window."

Thankfully, they didn't believe what they were told. But many of us do. We accept someone else's opinion as our fact. We allow others to determine what we believe about ourselves, what we aspire to achieve, what we dream and what we become. Others people's limiting beliefs about us become our own as we give them power over our life.

But, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen didn't. Their "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, now with 65 titles, has sold more than 80 million copies in 27 languages. Not bad for an anthology rejected by 33 major publishing houses in the first month, receiving more than 140 total rejections before their agent gave it back to them saying "I can't sell this book." Only by going booth to booth and pitching their vision to editors at a booksellers' convention did they finally find a small publisher who said yes.

Their passion about their work and its message kept them going. Passion kept Disney and Einstein and Kipling going, too. That's because passion is the most powerful self-motivator any of us can have. It's what drives us to use our talents and abilities. It's the one criteria I've found most helpful when selecting people in my twenty years of management. You can teach most skills. But you can't teach passion.

People who are winning at working believe in themselves and their dreams. They're not likely to view setbacks as failures, roadblocks as dead-ends, or negative critique as fatal. It's their passion that keeps them going when others give up. It's their passion that provides strength of purpose, resilience, persistence and the confidence to keep trying. It's their passion that helps them differentiate between opinion and fact about who they are and what they can do with their life. It's their passion that guides them.

Like Babe Ruth said, "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." When you are passionate about your work, your dreams and your life, you don't give up.

(c) 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit or contact Nan at

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