“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill

Embrace failure. Celebrate failure. Sounds crazy? I love John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward. I studied in John’s pro- gram and learned a great deal. He states, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” John says, “Make failure your friend.”

My brother, John, and I had many a talks about this. John is a successful executive at Goldman Sachs in NYC and played college basketball at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. John was a great player there and very competitive. In the private wealth business, you deal with a lot of rejection as you call on wealthy people, and you’re lucky if they give you five minutes. In addition, he started working just as 9-11 happened. Pink slips were showing up everywhere. We talked about how we were used to failing. As a player and coach, you fail often, and your job is to “study the tape” and get better.

How do you react to failure? I love Mandela’s quote at the beginning of this chapter, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” The more we fail, the more we learn. The more we learn, the better we get. The better we get, the closer we are to reaching our destiny. That sounds like Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

You cannot have a culture where people are afraid to fail. By creating a safe environment for your team, their creativity will flourish and the energy within the organization with grow. Your company may fail more than it succeeds, but it only takes one! One what? One new client! One new deal! One new employee! One new patent! One new idea! One key recruit!


“Successful failures”:

• Abraham Lincoln lost his job at the age of twenty-three. Lost many elections in the State of Illinois.

• Albert Einstein failed the entrance exam into school at sixteen. Sold insurance after struggling in college.

• Bill Belichick was fired by the Browns after five seasons in his first attempt as a head coach.

• Elvis Presley was told he couldn’t sing, so he started driving a truck.

• Joe Torre was fired by the Mets after five years in his first attempt at managing.

• Michael Jordan was famously cut by the varsity coach as a sophomore in high school.

• Oprah Winfrey ran away from home at thirteen and became pregnant at 14 and lost her TV anchor job after college.

• Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s film school for poor grades.

• Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas City Star for not having any imagination.

• Winston Churchill lost five elections, battled depression, and had a severe lisp.

• Vincent van Gogh sold just one painting during his lifetime.

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