Success Secrets: The devastating truth behind one of the most famous success quotes

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you Then they fight you. Then you win

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you Then they fight you. Then you win

Get ready! We’re about to unpack one of the most infamous 4 step success cycles. As far as I know, no-one has ever actually turned this cycle into a model, so I thought I’d work on developing a prototype today. If you fully examine the below statement, you will realize that it is actually not very inspiring. In fact, it’s brutal!

“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” – Attributed, some say incorrectly, to MK Gandhi

It essentially suggests that you will be tested in every way possible before recognition is granted. Your destiny is to fight ‘tooth and nail’ for every small and seemingly insignificant victory on the path to achievement. Kinda sucks doesn’t it? Perhaps through understanding this quote, we can come up with something better.

First they Ignore You

Psychological effect: If you have come across some of my other work, you would know that being ignored can actually be a type of abuse. Human nature is one that craves connection with others. Being ignored can easily reduce ones confidence and create uncertainty. Unlike constructive criticism where efforts can be made to improve, being ignored can leave you feeling completely lost.

Business effect: Most first time entrepreneurs or cause promoters are already on a limited budget. Being ignored can cause panic. Panic will often lead to scarcity based behaviour. Two classic results are either over-spending and allocating resources to something that is clearly not working and thus destroying your budget or major withdrawal of resources before an adequate test was completed and a high sense of risk aversion being formed.

Suggested Strategies for the Ignoring Stage

Psychologically: Focus on developing your optimism and resilience skills. Every day, practice paying attention to and positively reframing disempowering thoughts. The aim is not to create over-the-top positive statements, but rather to be ambitiously realistic and thoughtful. For example, change:

‘I’m always going to fail’
‘No-one is going to read this’
‘I’m wasting my time’
‘I will succeed with time and persistence’
‘If the quality is good and I keep promoting it, people will find it’
‘Every second I work on this I’m learning and growing’.

For more on these skills, check out Precision Language.

Businesswise: Find a business group or mentor to first test your ideas on and create a plan that you will strictly adhere to. Do not expect instant success and continuously test separate elements of your work and seek feedback.

If you are being ignored, it is simply because whatever you are creating is not attractive enough yet. You have to get attention! Is what you are working on visually enticing, are your headlines compelling and intriguing, are you using great imagery and is the presentation and its form unique? Continue searching for what your potential audience truly craves.

Then they ridicule you

Psychological effect: Not only do we want to connect to others, but we also want to be accepted by them. Ridicule implies that others believe your ideas or you, as you represent your ideas, have no value. It takes a strong mind not to succumb to ridicule. Being ridiculed often leads to embarrassment and feelings of shame.

Business effect: Nobody wants to have their business or their brand seen as inferior. You may be starting out as a little fish, but you still deserve to be respected. The temptation when being ridiculed is to try something different or ‘cooler’ at the expense of authenticity. Do not do this.

Suggested Strategies for the Ridicule Stage

Psychologically: Branding is about message, which is usually delivered through imagery. Psychologically, your job is to develop your self-image as a respected member of your business community. Here the classic psychological technique of acting ‘as if’ will suit you well. Spend 10 minutes a day visualizing yourself growing in confidence as you interact with others in a manner where they will have no choice but to respect you. Then work on acting in such a way when around others. To assist, you may wish to study books on developing charm and presenting well. (The Definitive Book on Body Language).

Businesswise: Continue to seek advice on improving presentation and professionalism. The aim is to create a consistent and unbreakable message. No matter what is said about you or your business, you will continue to develop ever higher standards of practice. Keeping up to date on the latest research and delivering that information in a timely and interesting fashion is a must.

Then they fight you

Psychological effect: Many people are highly avoidant of conflict. Instinctively, we all want to be liked. Being in continuous conflict often leads people to shut down and withdraw. Conflict causes stress which if left unmanaged will lead to emotional breakdown. Moving through the fight is the hardest part of the journey.

Business effect: Having a person or group actively working to discredit you is going to consume your resources. You will be tempted to fight back and discredit them. You will have to answer questions and explain yourself. Do so in a professional and neutral manner without referring to those aiming to discredit you unless necessary. Rather than falling into their trap and fighting back, you will be doing something much smarter.

Suggested Strategies for the Fight Stage

Psychologically: Stress management skills are essential here. Tracking stress triggers and developing strategies to counter-act such feelings is crucial. Regular controlled breathing, relaxation and meditative practices, as well as healthy lifestyle choices are recommended. To learn these skills check out Instant Inner Calm. Assertiveness is important to develop but should only be used if necessary.

A preferable method is to emotionally distance yourself from conflict. Imagine seeing those who fight you on a screen and know that you have the remote control and can do anything you want to them. You can make them smaller, or change their voices, or pause them whenever you want to. In separate sessions as instructed above, continue to build your strength and confidence.

Businesswise: Rather than hide from conflict, embrace it and calmly calculate how to best use the controversy. It’s free attention and it can work very well for you if you channel it correctly. They’re actually giving you free publicity that you can use.

For example, if a competitor said you do not honor your guarantee or you product is inferior, that can fuel a great headline. ‘Is product X inferior? Time for you to decide’. Then you can go on to educate your audience in a calm, professional and engaging manner how your product or service is fantastic.

Then you Win

Based on the feel of this quote, surviving all the ignoring, ridicule and fighting will lead you to becoming the winner. In my opinion, that is not a good enough prize. I don’t want to be the last man standing surrounded by the carcasses of my fallen enemies.

I want a graceful victory where I have remained professional and dignified and I have the respect and possible future alliance of my competitors. It is also important to realize that all victories are fleeting. The win is more of a probationary acceptance and does not guarantee all your future ideas will be immediately accepted. I would assume that once the buzz of your victory starts to fade, the cycle simply starts again and your audience reverts back to ignoring you. Therefore, we need a way to combat this tendency and to move people towards the victory part of the cycle faster each time.

The way to do that is continuously over-deliver on your promises. You don’t just want the win, you want the wow! This is where you create raving fans and a sustainable business. For guidance in this area you can explore ‘Raving Fans’ and ‘Delivering Happiness’.

So now we have created empowering actions and a new theoretical model to consider. Instead of Ignore, Ridicule, Fight, Win we have Attention, Respect, Calm-calculation, Wow!

I hope you find this model examination and creation useful. How would you create your own model or what would you change or add to this one?

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