Nobody knows how great you are. (Not even you!)

I used to think that self-confidence was a key ingredient to success. I used to think that successful people were all self-assured and secure in their own worth and abilities. Now I know too many people who lack self-confidence, self-assuredness and self-worth — yet are successful anyway.

Clearly, there’s something else at play here.

It took Bruce Springsteen six months to record the song, Born To Run, and a full year to complete the album of the same name. By the end of it, he didn’t think it was good enough — all he heard were imperfections. In It Ain’t No Sin To Be Glad You’re Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen, author Eric Alterman writes that it was his lead guitarist who convinced him not to trash the tapes.

After it was released on August 25, 1975 Born to Run became a critical and commercial success. It peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and reached high positions on charts worldwide.

In 1984 Leonard Cohen finished his album, Various Positions. One of the songs on that album is Hallelujah — which rose to the top 40 and was covered first by Bob Dylan, then by more than 100 other artists. In 2008, three versions of that song vied for Britain’s top Christmas song.

Not bad for a song from an album that Sony Music didn’t think was good enough to release in the U.S.

According to Leonard Mludinow in The Drunkard’s Walk, John Grisham’s manuscript for A Time To Kill was rejected by twenty-six publishers. Dr. Suess’s first children book was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. J.K.Rowling’s first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by nine publishers. Publishers thought Anne Frank’s manuscript, The Diary of a Young Girl, was “very dull” — it then went on to sell 30 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books in history. John Kennedy Toole was so dismayed after his many rejections that he gave up, literally, and committed suicide. His mother, however, persevered, and eleven years later, A Confederacy of Dunces, was published; it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and has sold nearly 2 million copies.

The truth is that nobody knows how great you are — not even you.

This blog post was written by Michel Neray. Catch Michel at the following MoMondays: Mississauga April 1; Calgary, April 8 and Barrie April 15! Get your advance tickets here: Buy Tickets

SONY DSC Michel is the founder of MoMondays. For his ‘day job’, he is a professional speaker, M.C. and consultant who helps his clients dig down to their ‘Essential Message’. That’s the key to stronger branding, better sales, employee engagement, personal confidence… and world peace. He’s married with three children, two dogs, three snowboards, a whitewater canoe and a black belt in Karate. Get more Michel at

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