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Should you ever just give up?

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You might imagine that the creator of the comic book heroes Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men would have had no trouble starting his career.

You’d be wrong.

Stan Lee, the guy who invented all those characters, describes his early rejections in a letter to life coach Andy Andrews, author of The Traveler’s Gift. In his letter, Lee talks about spending two decades trying to sell a comic strip to the major newspaper syndicates. For 20 years, nada.

“Did I quit?” Lee asks. “Damn right I did!”

Turning the strips into comic books instead, Lee stopped collecting rejection slips and started focusing on Marvel Comics. That’s when Spider- Man and the rest hit it big.

“That taught me an unforgettable lesson,” Lee writes. “I’m just sorry it took me 20 years to learn it. Persistence is a great virtue. Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, you should never give up while there’s a shred of hope left. But … you must also be perceptive enough to know when something just isn’t going to work. There has to be a time when you let it go and look for other opportunities: The world is filled with them.

“Just as it’s important not to give up so long as you have a fighting chance, it’s equally important to know when to stop wasting time,” he says. “It’s sometimes better to switch gears, change your direction and find another challenge, one which has a better chance of success. The trick is not to get hooked on failure.”

—Adapted from Mastering the Seven Decisions, Andy Andrews, Thomas Nelson Inc.

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