4 Proven Success Lessons from the Story of KFC

A while back, I read the story of how Colonel Sanders built Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). It’s an inspiring story, and I learned a lot from it.

You might want to read the complete story yourself, but here I’d like to share the lessons I learned from the story with you.

Without further ado, here are the lessons I learned:

1. Be resilient.

Failure happens to all of us. In fact, if you never fail, that’s most likely because you never tried. Failure is inevitable on the way to success.

Since failure is inevitable, what matters is how you respond to it. If you respond correctly, failure can’t stop you.

That’s what happened in the story of Colonel Sanders.

He once had a successful restaurant. Life seemed good for him. But then something unexpected happened: authorities moved the highway junction in front of his restaurant to another site. As a result, the number of visitors to his restaurant plummeted. He eventually had to sell his restaurant. Worse, he was already 66 years old at that time.

Many people might lose hope in such a situation—but not Col. Sanders. He didn’t lament his bad fortune. He didn’t blame someone else for the situation. Instead, he thought about what he could do to overcome the difficulties. He was resilient.

2. Make the most of what you have.

While being in a bad situation, many people focus on what they don’t have. They complain about not having this or that. But that’s not the way to go. What you should do is look at what you do have.

That’s what Col. Sanders did. After the failure of his restaurant, he didn’t have much—but he did have one thing: his fried-chicken recipe. So he decided to make the most of it. He decided to sell his fried-chicken to restaurants.

That’s what winners do: they make the most of what they have to turn a situation around.

3. Make no excuses.

To sell his fried-chicken, Col. Sanders had to go door-to-door. Many times he had to sleep in his car. Remember: he had to do all of this when he was already 66 years old.

In such a situation, he could have made many excuses: “I’m too old for that,” “I can’t sleep in my car,” and so on. But he didn’t make any of those excuses. Rather, he paid the price and did what it takes.

That’s what winners do: they do whatever it takes to succeed. They make no excuses.

4. Be persistent.

It’s not easy to sell fried-chicken the way Col. Sanders did. He must have experienced many rejections. But that didn’t stop him. He kept moving forward. He was persistent.

Thanks to his persistence, he eventually had enough restaurants that bought from him to build a successful business. His persistence paid off.


If you find yourself in a difficult situation, don’t worry: there is always a way out. It might not be an easy way out, but there is a way out if you are willing to pay the price.

Be resilient. Make the most of what you have. Make no excuses, and be persistent. You will eventually come out as a winner.


In case you want to learn similar lessons from the life of Steve Jobs, a while back I wrote an e-book titled A Dent in the Universe: 36 Small-Business Lessons from Steve Jobs.

The goal of the book is to help you best run your own business. But even if you don’t plan to run a business, I believe the lessons can still enrich your life.

The package contains the book in three formats: PDF, epub (for the iPhone/iPad), and mobi (for the Kindle).

Click here for a free preview (PDF)

Click here to get the e-book (in all three formats)

Photo by Rob Sheridan


  1. Hi Donald, a great article on the lessons one can learn from Colonel Sanders. I actually read the story from a number of sources when I was doing research for my book, the Winning Code. And yes, you’re right… winners get on with it without complaining. They do what they can with what they have, right where they are. Great blog, keep it coming…

  2. hi donald,..thanks man ! a very helpful article, appreciate a lot,actually i am in sanders zone at the moment and honestly i have almost given up ! life is hard but it will get harder when we given up.

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