If we don't take ownership of our lives, then someone else will. When things don't seem to be going our way, we have to be persistent, see the positive, or perhaps simply look in the mirror.
Take the story of Colonel Sanders. He was far from an overnight success story. When he retired, a chicken recipe was all he had to his name.
So he decided to find a buyer for his recipe. He drove round the US, sleeping in his car, changing his ideas, always believing. And Sanders never gave up: he knocked on 1,009 doors before he got his first "yes".
Look also at the stories of Sylvester Stallone, Billy Joel, Richard Branson, President Lincoln and thousands of others. And, closer to home, look at successful projects, e-businesses and companies that so nearly failed. Persistence is incompatible with failure.
We all see the world through different lenses, and we can choose how we see things - two shoe salespeople from different companies travelled to a far-flung country to assess the markets. After just a day, the first phoned back to base:
"They have never even heard of shoes here, let alone worn them. I am coming home on the next flight."
The second also called in. "They have never even heard of shoes here, let alone worn them. Send me everything you've got."
Finally, it is our own behaviour, not that of others, that determines how effectively we build and maintain rapport.
A monk lived a quiet, reclusive life in the hills, just off a little-used track that connected two distant villages, one in the north, the other the south. Occasionally travellers would pass, and he would always invite them in to share some time, food and conversation. One day, a tired looking man called in on his way from the north. He was exhausted, unfriendly and made short, sharp efforts at exchange.
"Tell me, monk, what are the people like in the village to which I travel?"
The monk replied, "Before I answer, tell me, how did you find the people in the village from which you've come?"
The traveller said, "It was a horrible, unfriendly place. The people made no effort, and I hated my time there."
To which the monk replied, "In which case, I must tell you that you will find the people in the south, much the same."
Two days later another traveller arrived, much fleeter of foot, and of a far happier disposition. He asked the monk about the people in the village ahead, and the monk asked the same question about those he had met in the north.
The traveller said, "The village I have come from was a wonderful place, a real community. People made me feel so welcome, they shared their stories, their food and their hospitality. They became some of my closest friends, and I was sad to leave."
To which his host replied, "In which case, I must tell you that you will find the people in the south, much the same."
David Taylor's Inside Track, a provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. It is published by ButterworthHeinemann Tel: 01865-88180