Mike Kueber's Blog

August 8, 2012

Famous failures

Filed under: Business,Culture — Mike Kueber @ 5:33 am
Tags: , ,

George Takei, of Star Trek fame, posted a chart on his Facebook wall with famous failures consisting of Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Eminem, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and Walt Disney.  According to Takai, the moral of the story is, “Often the best thing that can happen is to fall flat on your face. It is through failure that we truly learn.”  The moral of the story may be true, but Takei picked the wrong people to exemplify it. 

The story about Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team is apocryphal.  It is true that he didn’t, as a sophomore, make the varsity of his powerhouse high school team, but he did get assigned to the junior varsity (jv).  More importantly, he was assigned to the jv not because he wasn’t good enough for the varsity, but because he would receive a lot more playing time and experience leading the jv than he would sitting on the varsity bench.  But that truth doesn’t resonate with all of the no-talent kids who are cut from their teams every year.

Steve Jobs’s failure is just as exaggerated.  Although he was squeezed out of Apple in 1985, he left as a rich man and almost immediately founded computer-platform company NeXT and developed a computer-graphics company that became Pixar.  When Apple had some business failures, Jobs was asked to return, first as an advisor and later as CEO.  He was back in the saddle of Apple by 1998.

Thus, it would be accurate to say that Jordan and Jobs experienced setbacks, but they were never failures.  And the examples of Winfrey, Eminem, and The Beatles are almost as inappropriate.  Almost every entertainer is going to have a long list of setbacks and rejections before achieving success.  Over-night successes are virtually unheard of.

There’s an old expression about a solution in search of a problem.  Here we have a moral that may be true, but has little to do with the lives selected to exemplify it.

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1 Comment »

  1. I agree. These people and others experienced failure in that everything did not always run smoothly, but that is part of the human condition. Walt Disney did experience rejection as did the others, but ultimately none ended up down and out. We just need to get trough the tough spots.

    Comment by Vance Rekdal — August 9, 2012 @ 3:53 am | Reply


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