Lessons in Success from “Lovable Loser” Charles M. Schulz

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Charles M. Schulz was a legendary cartoonist who created the highly successful and culturally impactful comic strip Peanuts. During his professional life, he was critically acclaimed and respected by millions of people around the world. He is widely considered one of the most influential cartoonists of all time and Peanuts is still as popular as ever before, even 18 years after his death.

However, if you went back in time and told him that he would enjoy all this success, there’s a pretty good chance he would not believe you. Having once called himself a “lovable loser,” Schulz faced a number of obstacles on his path to success. Here are the top lessons that we can all learn from the comic legend himself.

Success in school is not an indicator of professional success

For all of Schulz’s brilliance, there was an equal amount of self-apprehension. Growing up, Schulz was not confident in himself or his academic performance. For Schulz, performing well in school was nearly impossible. In 8th grade, he flunked every single course. In high school, he failed Physics, Latin, Algebra, and even English. He wasn’t much better at sports either. When he made the school golf team, he immediately lost one of the only important matches of the season. Presented with an opportunity to redeem himself, he lost the follow-up match as well. Socially, he admitted that he was awkward and not at all popular. Having almost no friends, people seemed to pass by him in the halls as if he did not even exist.

Charles Schulz High School Yearbook Photo – 1940

In our world, any of these things would be devastating. We are taught that success comes to the football stars, the 4.0 students, or the popular and well-connected socialites. Arguably, Schulz had zero success in school and was probably written off as a loser by his peers and his teachers alike. Little did anyone know that he would go on to impact the entire world in a way nobody could imagine. This proves that you don’t have to be perfect to be a huge success. There are numerous success stories of people who were “average” in school. Hell,  Benjamin Franklin did not even have a chance in school because he dropped out at 10 years old. If you’re reading this and you consider yourself “average” or a “loser,” you’re in good company.

Persevere through rejection and failure

At the time, he knew that he liked to draw. In his senior year of high school, he was confident enough to submit some of his artwork to the school yearbook committee. His cartoons were rejected.

Despite this huge blow to his confidence, he decided to become a professional cartoonist because it’s what he enjoyed doing the most. He found that his only chance was to write to Walt Disney Studios in hopes that they would want his illustrations. Initially interested in the concept, they also rejected his work when they received the samples.

He rejected by his peers at the yearbook. He was rejected by actual professionals who worked in the industry. He was rejected by everybody except for one person – himself. He still believed in his vision and was determined to make it work. He decided to write his own comic strip based off of his own experiences. He wanted this strip to focus on a character who best symbolized the concept of a perpetual lovable loser. At 24 years old, he started writing Lil’ Folks for newspapers at $10/submission.  As the comic became more and more popular, Schulz reworked some characters and rereleased the comic with a new title – Peanuts.

Lil Folks – April 29, 1950

You will get rejected plenty of times. If you work in sales, prepare to get rejected on a daily basis. Working in business is not for the thin-skinned. Power through the rejections and get yourself back up after you fall down. There’s a quote out there by Thomas Edison that perfectly sums this up – “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Success comes to those who persevere.

Commit yourself to your vision

The initial years were financially tough for Schulz. He was living in a spare room in an apartment on top of a bowling alley. Despite being told that he would never be successful, he stuck to his new concept and did not deviate. He knew that his vision would resonate with people all over the world. As it turns out, people easily identify with “lovable loser” Charlie Brown. Adults liked it because it reminded them of their younger days and what they experienced growing up. Kids enjoyed it because it parallels with they are experiencing at that moment. Over time, Peanuts became the most influential and popular comic strip in the world.

Schulz was the sole author of every single strip. Over the nearly 50 years that Peanuts was published, Schulz drew nearly 18,000 strips. Eventually, Peanuts was published daily in 2,600 papers in 75 countries, in 21 languages. The result of all this? The Peanuts brand produced revenues of more than $1 billion per year at its height, with Schulz earning an estimated $30 million to $40 million annually. If you have a vision for yourself, commit yourself to it and make it work.

Success isn’t for those who wait around for it. It comes to those who fight through the obstacles to find it. Charles M. Schulz is the best example of someone who persevered through the rejections, failures, and self-apprehension to eventually become one of most influential people in the world. If he can do it, why can’t you?

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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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