Jun 29

Success is what we can make of the mess we have made of things

June 29
aren't my comments. They were spoken by T.S. Eliot, author of the some of the
most memorable poems in the 20th century.

quote appeared in the Boston Globe in honor of his graduation from Harvard 100
years ago. Despite his later success, Eliot was anything but a
model student. In fact, he racked up only three As to go along with eight Bs,
six Cs and one D. Those low marks, coupled with a spotty attendance record,
bought Eliot academic probation in 1906. Nice, T.S.

story doesn't surprise me one bit. For every overnight success story a la the
founders of Google and YouTube, there are exponentially more 'failures' such as
Alexander Graham Bell (who accidentally invented the telephone as he tried
building a more effective hearing aid), Edison (who said it took him 10,000
tries to invent electricity) and Buckminster Fuller who, at the age of 32, had
had enough of failure and was contemplating suicide. He decided to give life
one more shot, and went on to author 28 books, receive 25 patents and collect
47 honorary doctorates. Talk about comeback player of the year!

gets a bum rap in today's society. And, I see far too many people, young,
middle-aged and old, who are afraid to fail. So, instead, they choose the path
of least resistance, accept mediocrity and end up being miserable.

beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is that it forces one to confront
failure on a daily basis. Ed and I have failed countless times since starting
our company. Some have been minor. Some, as the Japanese executives at Sony
used to say, were 'epoch-making.'

and every failure is a tremendous learning experience if you're able to pick
yourself up, shake off the dust and try something just a little bit differently
the next time. Edison failed 9,999 times in his search for electricity. Talk
about OCD! And Fuller figured he'd hit a literal dead-end at mid-life. Look at
Harry S. Truman. He was a complete failure and destitute at the age of 40.

the Globe's editor put it, 'Life is messy and unpredictable.' The individuals
who recognize that and see failure as an opportunity are the ones who
eventually succeed. Sadly, we never hear about the vast majority of others who
give up.

here's a homage from one mediocre student to another. T.S.: I was never a fan
of your poems or your genre, but I sure respect your perseverance.