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Written by Subject: Motivation

Never fear.  Failing for the first time, even the second or third, places you in good company.  Our friend Danny Cox in is book, Leadership When the Heat’s On, list some early-game losers that we wouldn’t mind being associated with:

1.       He was labeled unsociable and mentally slow He didn’t start talking until he was 4 years old.  His father said he wouldn’t amount to anything.  He was eventually expelled from school.

2.       The man entered the conflict a captain and was busted down to a private.  He left the military and became a farm laborer.  His military and civilian careers were stuck in reverse.

3.       This person’s childhood voice teacher said that he had no voice talent at all.

4.       This man’s employers told him that he didn’t have enough sense to wait on customers.  He was relegated to stocking shelves where he worked till age 21.

5.       The editor of the newspaper where he worked accused him of being “void of creativity” and fired him, citing “lack of ideas”.

6.       Consistently at the bottom of the class, this mans teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything.  He finally educated at the knee of his patient mother. 

7.       Her parents received a letter from the acting school where she was a student explaining that her teachers felt she had no talent and recommended that the parents waste no more money on the child theatrical training. She failed at audition after audition and struggling to overcome a crippling disease.  She didn’t walk for 2 years. Finally at age 40 she landed her first noteworthy acting role.

8.       He played varsity basketball for Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina until he was cut from the team.  Instead of giving up he practiced on his own hour after hour, imagining his name on the list in the locker room.  His hard work eventually earned him back his spot on the roster.

It’s pretty transparent where we are going with this.  You’ve no doubt heard such paradoxical descriptions before.   We could list millions of examples depicting how people’s lives appear to be hopeless only to be redeemed later.  Yet, when we’re shot down by a current or prospective customer we instinctively consider it hopeless.  We quickly overcome that feeling of rational thinking,  as you do but the gut reaction is despair.  So, it never hurts to remind ourselves that we have lived through the worst and have lived to fight another day. Oh and you probably wondering who those losers were in that previous list.  Let’s see:

1.       Mentally slow and expelled from school –Albert Einstein

2.       A leadership Failure in the military-turned-farm-laborer—Abraham Lincoln

3.       The boy with no vocal talent—Enrico Caruso

4.       Too dumb to wait on customers—F.W. Woolworth

5.       Void of creativity and ideas—Walt Disney

6.       Too stupid to learn anything—Thomas A. Edison

7.       No theatrical skill—Lucille Ball

8.       Cut from basketball team Michael Jordan

Adapted from “How to Sell to an Idiot” by John Hoover and Bill Sparkman


1 Comments in Response to

Comment by William Klepzig
Entered on:

The word fail is taught in school as a bad thing. It is driven into us that to fail is so bad that we should not even try. How sad.
I watched a young boy fail four times at finding a way up a tree. He fell, cried and tried again aand in the end learned the hand and toe holds that worked. His failings turned into better understanding of what was needed than any school taught class whould have done.
Today, many feel America has failed. Reading any papers or news casts points to how we are unable to compete in the world and how our banks have harmed the entire world. This failure is great. Americans can look at the last twenty years and see that many things don't work, two party system and courts and with these failures decide a way to make the country better. Failure may sting in pride and the pocket book but it grows your attitude in how to tackle problems. Mistakes teach you faster new ways to think and act. It is time to learn that there are more then two ideas/ways to run this country because the way we have been doing it is harming you and this nation.