Cesar Millan trains a dog.

Happy February 4th! This date may not strike you as anything special, but there have been a lot of really famous people born on that date — pilot Charles Lindbergh, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, feminist Betty Friedan, Argentinian president Isabel Perón, Vice President Dan Quayle, musician Alice Cooper, and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti.

That’s a pretty diverse list of people, but the one I want to tell you about now would have been celebrating her 100th birthday today. Unfortunately, she died in 1995, but you may have heard her name: Ida Lupino. Whether you have or not, there’s a very important lesson we can all learn from her, especially in what pundits are calling The Year of Women.

Ida Lupino’s History

What made Ida Lupino unique is that she began her career as an actress but ended it by also being a very successful director and producer in the Hollywood system. After appearing in nearly 60 films, she directed eight starting in 1949, and then in 1956 directed her first of over 100 television episodes. Keep in mind that this was at a time when the entire film industry was dominated by men — and it still is. A woman wasn’t even nominated for the Best Director Oscar until 1977 and no woman won it until 2010.

So what’s the lesson Ms. Lupino has for us? No, it’s not that you should become a powerful Hollywood director and producer, although if that is your dream, knock yourself out. The real lesson we can learn from her is to never take “No” for an answer in the first place.

The Biggest Source of NO

However, the biggest source of that “No” is going to surprise you. It didn’t just come from the men who ran the studios and hired the directors and approved the projects in the first place. While that was true, Ida Lupino never would have turned any of those noes to yeses without getting rid of the biggest one of all.

The biggest “No” that she faced — and all of us face — is the one that comes from ourselves.

The big “No” that I hear from people all the time is, of course, about their dogs, and it’s always in the form of, “I’ll never be able to get my dog to do…” fill in the blank. Repeat anything to yourself enough, and it becomes your truth. They call this a self-fulfilling prophecy, and telling yourself “No” is the biggest of the bunch.

Why would a successful actress not try to become a director in the first place? By being convinced that no one is ever going to let her do it. That sure makes it easy, doesn’t it? Convince yourself you’ll never succeed so you have no reason to ask anyone. You can’t be rejected if you don’t try, right?

But you also can’t be accepted.

If you can’t convince yourself that you can get your dog to behave, your dog is never going to believe it either. Your own internalized “No” will be constantly reinforced by everyone around you, whether they know they’re doing it or not.

It’s only when you learn how to tell yourself “Yes” that you’ll begin to see positive results. “Yes, I can get my dog to do whatever I want” will get you much farther than self-doubt.

A big part of being a Pack Leader is projecting the confidence that will make your dog feel secure and protected, and believing that you can do it will get you a long way toward actually doing it. Seeing yourself succeed once you believe you can will get you the rest of the way there.

This confidence and unwillingness to accept “No” literally put Ida Lupino in the director’s chair and, as a producer, in the driver’s seat. But whether you’re directing a dog or a Hollywood film, the ability to succeed all begins with not listening when you try to tell yourself “No.”

Stay calm, and keep saying yes!

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