No one likes to admit failure. The word represents defeat, disappointment and imperfection.
Rick Newman, the chief business correspondent at U.S. News & World Report, studied 12 successful, well-known people from various professions and determined that they all had one trait in common: failure.
These individuals suffered professional rejection, career setbacks and sometimes a debilitating blow to their self-confidence, but they all managed to rise above the challenges to attain greater success than they had ever imagined. Newman calls these individuals "rebounders" and he shares their struggles, hardships and remarkable comebacks in his new book "Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success."
In an interview with The Daily Ticker, Newman says readers of the book should view setbacks as a process, not defeat. He notes that eminent business leaders and scholars acknowledge failure cannot be avoided in life and often failure is what makes someone stronger and better able to deal with adversity and unwelcome detours.
Newman gives examples of famous people who "rebounded" from misfortune to resiliency, including:
Former New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre "had all the hallmarks of a has-been" when the Yankees hired him in 1995. Before joining the Bronx Bombers, Torre was better known for being a flame-out: he had a career losing record as a manager and was fired from every managing job he ever had, according to Newman. Now a baseball legend, he led the Yankees to six American league titles and four World Series championships.
Inventor Thomas Edison failed many times before he changed the world forever. He may best be known for inventing the electric light blub, phonograph and motion picture camera but Newman says even Edison created failures. Edison learned from his failed experiments and applied those lessons to future projects.
Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle revolutionized trading and is considered an industry pioneer. But had he not been ousted in a boardroom coup in 1975, Bogle "probably have been a comfortable financial-industry executive few people remember," Newman writes. Bogle decided to pursue his long-time vision and the rest is history.
Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling is one of the richest people in Britain but in the early 1990s she was a single-mother, suffering from depression and penniless. After countless rejections, one publisher decided to take on her Harry Potter idea. The seven-book series became blockbuster movies, a theme park and one of the most popular book series around the world.
Apple Founder and Former CEO Steve Jobs may be one of the greatest innovators of all time, but even the tech genius's career hit a nadir. Ousted from the company he helped to build in 1985, Jobs felt despair and rejection but funneled his energy into new ventures (like Pixar) before returning to Apple in 1996. In his famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Jobs said "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
He are Newman's nine key attributes of a "rebounder":
- They accept failure (and can recognize their own mistakes)
- They compartmentalize their emotions (they don't internalize bad feelings)
- They have a bias toward action (responding aggressively to a challenge)
- They change their minds sometimes (the need to discard old thinking and reprogram a dream)
- They prepare for things to go wrong (rebounders are not necessarily optimists)
- They're comfortable with discomfort (they're willing to accept inconveniences as long as it leads them closer to an important goal)
- They're willing to wait (overnight success is deceptively untrue)
- They have heroes (rebounders set and meet higher standards when inspired by others)
- They have more than passion (success requires drive too)
Newman says that recovering from failure can be emotionally grueling but adds that failure teaches you important things that can "help you tremendously in the future."
"You have to be keep your mind open," he says. "You have to realize this is just a process, more is coming. And don't be afraid."