Failures of the Greatest, and why that’s not bad.

7 01 2015

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” ~Michael Jordan

In the movie “The Guardian”, Kevin Costner’s character is repeatedly asked how many people he’s saved as a rescue swimmer.  At the end, he gives a number (something like 50), and the young kid seems less than impressed that he saved only 50.  Costner points out that 50 isn’t the number he saved, it’s the number that he couldn’t save.  Failures are what many of the best remember and learn from, not the successes (they’re easy, by comparison).

As a leader, I’ve made at least 5 bad hires, given 4 or more bad promotions, made uncountable bad decisions, guessed wrong, hurt people’s feelings inadvertently, supported several new services that ultimately failed, spent money on many things that didn’t work, and spent a great deal of time on something that, ultimately, was a waste of time.  Or was it?  Learning from our mistakes is what makes experience, and eventually… wisdom.  Jordan was the greatest despite his failures.  One day, I hope to be one of the best at my job, in my industry, despite my failures.   Come to think of it, given everything I’ve done wrong, what are you doing reading leadership advice from me? 🙂

Speaking of careers…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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