Let me be blunt about this fact, and then let me help you. Let me take a pail of ice-cold water and throw it in your face. You must accept this fact of life if you want power. Everything your mother told you about how you are special and how you can succeed at anything you put your mind to is simply not true. You will fail, many times over. Even once you have achieved a modicum of success, you will fail yet again.
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But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Understanding and embracing this simple truth is what separates the powerful from the weak. This is true, and it will always be true. All the way up to the last breath you take. So ignore the word no. And ignore the failure. Every time you step up to the plate and strike out, be ready to push harder and try again. This is the way the world works. I didn’t make the rules. I’m just here to remind you that if you choose to believe all the negative crap people throw in your face, you will be the architect of your own downfall. Not them. The power is yours.
This is one of the first reviews of KISS, during our very first tour:
The gentleman who wrote this review of our little band, I am sure, didn’t have anything personal against us. I am quite sure he actually believed the words he wrote. So what? We chose to ignore him, as we do all of our critics, and that’s why the band is still around and thriving today. Your critics don’t count. You must ignore the negatives in your life and continue to move forward. You must be unrelenting and follow your dreams. And you must accept that you will fail. Just like I do. Every day. But I also win. And so will you.
This is where the gulf exists between those who become powerful and the rest.
Here’s a famous story of failure that may sound familiar to you:
When Harland David Sanders was 7 years old, his father came home one day with a fever and later died in his bed, leaving the young boy responsible for feeding his siblings while their mother was at work. It was 1895 and his family had nothing. But he had to find a way to cook for his siblings. So the children all foraged for food, and Sanders learned to cook vegetables and then meat. What started as a bleak tragedy would turn out to be the catalyst for Sanders’s calling, despite his absolute lack of power and resources. He eventually left home to work on a farm, and after that he held various jobs until he ended up running a Shell service station in Kentucky. By this time it was the Depression, and Sanders was dead broke. He decided to start selling chicken in his service station as a way to make some extra money.
Related: What to Do When You Fail
Sanders was pressed for time, as his customers came to his station for gas, not to eat. The food was an afterthought, and he needed to find a way to cook his food quickly. So he developed a way to prepare his secret recipe by dropping the chicken into a pressure cooker instead of frying it in a pan the way all his competitors were doing. This made the chicken extra crispy—the way we still know and love it today. But then came the perfect storm: a highway was built that bypassed Sanders’s gas station/restaurant altogether. His dream was derailed, and he was forced to sell his business and live off his savings, teaching his recipe to a friend and allowing him to serve it in his restaurant. The friend’s restaurant flourished, and Sanders knew that he was really onto something. So he packed his bags and went from restaurant to restaurant with a pressure cooker and some seasoning, in hopes of franchising his recipe. He slept in his car, took free meals from the restaurants he visited whenever possible, and slowly but surely his persistence began to pay off. Eventually word spread: people loved his recipe, and potential franchisees started coming to him. He shipped his spices to franchised restaurants at four cents on every chicken sold and eventually sold his share of the company for $2 million (which would be $15 million today). Eventually he moved to Canada to oversee the Canadian branches of his company, and until his death, he continued building his business into the monolith that is KFC.
Even if you lack everything else—resources, connections, even talent—but you can retain this endurance and persistence, and never give up, you can seize power.
Was Colonel Sanders born powerful? No. Was he given a handout? Of course not. He chased success down like a dog and didn’t stop running until he caught it. As you are reading this right now, you may have an idea that people are telling you is crazy. I’m sure many people told Colonel Sanders he was crazy. But in the end, your results will vindicate you, no matter how crazy your idea seems or how many people you might have to alienate in pursuing it.
Can you cold-call businesspeople you find interesting? Are you willing to sleep in your car, pound the pavement, and never rest? I hope that the answer is yes. Because if you don’t have that same dedication to your vision, I will never hear of you and you will never have the success and the power that you deserve. This is where the gulf exists between those who become powerful and the rest. Even if you lack everything else—resources, connections, even talent—but you can retain this endurance and persistence, and never give up, you can seize power. I can all but guarantee that you don’t have it any harder than Sanders or any of the other figures we’ll speak about later in this book. They did it. And so can you.
From On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power by Gene Simmons. Copyright © 2017 by Gene Simmons. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copies of ON POWER are available wherever books are sold, and Signed Editions are available through Book Soup, Fountain Bookstore, and Premiere Collectibles.
A multi-recording artist, KISS cofounder Gene Simmons is the New York Times best-selling author of Me, Inc., Nothing to Lose, and KISS and Make-Up, and has appeared in TV and film, including A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which was the longest-running celebrity reality show of all time. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.