Veteran authors recount horror stories of trying to publish a book. It has always been rather tough. Robert Pirsig sent the manuscript of his first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to 107 publishers before he got an offer of publication. The 1974 title went on to become one of the best-selling volumes in history.
There will come a time in many negotiations when you’ll want to call it quits. It’s simply not going well, or you feel that you’ve given up too much, or the people involved (whether they be an ex or a lawyer) have become angry and defensive. Maybe you’re just plain tired, or it’s taking too long and seemingly not worth the effort anymore.
My advice is to stick with it, until and unless it’s clear that no acceptable deal is possible. As Vince Bugliosi says, “Winning is often simply getting up from the ground one more time than your opponent.” So do just that: keep getting up from the ground until there is nothing worth getting up for. (Then get up and leave).
Resilience and tenacity pay off. Perseverance pays off. It can overcome a mountain of rejections. It can often outmaneuver financial or political advantage, or even superior leverage.
Senator Mitchell displayed this kind of perseverance in negotiating for the Belfast accord. No matter what setbacks arose during the three-year negotiation period—personal insults, walkouts, bombs going off —he adhered to his principles and kept the negotiations moving forward.
The Tewa Tribe exemplified perseverance in its six-decade negotiations with the U.S. government to regain their title to the sacred Blue Lake watershed. They stayed aware of changes in authority; built trusting relationships with key partners; used leverage wherever they could find it; and, through it all, never wavered from their goal.
As Calvin Coolidge, our thirtieth president, once said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of [p]ersistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful [people] with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”