THE BLOG
10/03/2013 05:14 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

How Many Times Have You Heard the Word NO, NO, NO and NO Again?

No has a tendency to create so many distractions. It causes us to lose focus and begin concentrating on things that don't matter. It is the underlying fear of rejection or failure. Worse, we begin to make excuses for why it's okay for us to settle for the word no. "I guess this just wasn't a good fit for me," you tell yourself. "If it was meant to be, it would have come more easily." Not so. There's that old cliché that nothing worth doing in life comes easily. In the realm of business and entrepreneurship, those words could not ring truer.

The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that the former refuse to allow a no to become a permanent setback. These are the kind of people who are relentless in the pursuit of their goals. When they encounter resistance, problems, setbacks, and outright no's, they do not see them as the endgame. They see them as challenges that must be overcome. Where many would bend or even break at rejection, the successful among us use it as motivation to make themselves and their products or services better.

You're going to face no's as you try to climb up the ladder at work or guide your company, idea, or venture to success. The trick is to turn those negatives into positive reinforcement. The trick is to be relentless.

When you encounter your first (or second, or third, or fourth...) no, it's so easy to stray from your focus. It's so easy to stop improving yourself and your craft. Drifting back to the status quo, returning to what is expected of you, and retreating into giving up is just so much easier than striving to overcome, changing strategies, and forging ahead.

If you are going to succeed in your goals, whether personal or professional, you must work on ways to avoid the mindset that allows you to give up or slow down even for a second. You need to stop looking for reasons to justify the no's and start thinking there is nothing in the world that will prevent you from achieving your goals.

Never giving up isn't easy. It takes a great deal of work. When you're trying to make a career transition, open a business, or take an existing business to the next level, you truly have to eat, sleep, and breathe that goal. You have to become it. You have to be as creative, innovative, and above all relentless as possible. So how do you do that?

1. Never give less than 110 percent.

People say this all the time: if you want to succeed in life, you have to give 110 percent all the time. The problem for most people who truly want to achieve their dreams is not the effort itself. If you really want something, giving it your all and then some is not nearly as tiring as it might seem.

You have to know internally that you're offering your goals 110 percent. If you're trying to fund a startup, ask yourself if you've really gotten yourself in front of as many potential investors as possible. If you're looking for a job, ask yourself if you might be able to send out more résumés each day. If you're trying for that promotion, ask yourself if there's something more you could be doing to catch the manager's eye.

2. Listen to your Aha Moments.

We've all had Aha Moments before. These are those moments when the solution to a predicament that previously plagued you becomes immediately clear. It's hard to explain where they come from; you just know you feel inspired when they arrive. These are the moments when something in your mind or something in one of your working relationships just clicks. Where before there were obstacles, now there are opportunities.

Inspiration is critical to success in literally any field. Never pass it off as a whim. It is the driving force behind innovation, creation, and ultimately success. Do not ignore your Aha Moments. Follow your inspirations. Embrace those clicks, those moments when the lightbulbs come on. These are the times when possibilities make themselves known.

3. Do your homework.

Any time you plan to enter into something--whether that's the pursuit of a new job or a new opportunity for your business--you must do your homework. Research everything you possibly can before you ever enter the room. Knowledge is, after all, power. More often than not, it is the edge necessary to beating the competition and securing the opportunity.

Once you've done your research, develop your strategy around it. Keep honing that strategy until you can see no flaw--then hone it some more. When you have everything in place, implement, implement, implement. Do not rest until you feel like you know everything there is to know and until you can actually see your strategy in motion.

4. Eat, sleep, and breathe your craft.

If you're truly giving 110 percent of your effort, then your craft starts to feel more like a new hobby than a job. Eating, sleeping, and breathing your craft means taking your next steps and your milestones to bed with you every night, and it means thinking about them the moment you wake up. It means calling prospects constantly. It means taking as many interviews as possible. It means e-mailing résumés every day. It means taking all the steps necessary to get to where you need to be. It means being unconventional in conventional times. If there is ever a moment when you're not thinking about what you need to do next to achieve your goals, you must push through that moment and get back on task.

5. Go above and beyond the competition.

When you're eating, sleeping, and breathing your craft, this final step comes naturally. Here you must find ways to do things more efficiently, better, and more creatively than those with whom you compete. It's all about strategy and timing--with timing often being the key. But, if you've done your homework, operate with inspiration, and give 110 percent of yourself to the things you want, the competition doesn't have a prayer.

Where many of your peers find success is through their unbending unwillingness to let the word no become a setback. They are at all times relentless. With these five steps, you too can live a life free of stagnation and align yourself with the path of consistent upward movement. Your milestones will pass by more quickly than you could ever imagine. Through your 110-percent effort, you will become more powerful than you ever thought possible. Before you know it, you will have reached your ultimate goal.