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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse


‘If necessity is the mother of invention, failure must its father.’

(Steve Young (2006))

I recently chanced upon a book written by Steve Young entitled ‘Great failures of the extremely successful’ (2006). Fascinating book, in which the author recounts some of the darkest and lowest moments in the lives and careers of some really famous and, by universal standards and common opinion, successful people. It is hence surprising to us that such amazing people could have ever failed, let alone fail spectacularly as some of these case-studies show. For example, Albert Einstein was mute till the age of four, was regarded as retarded by his school teachers, and was rejected in his college (university) admissions; Isaac Newton was deemed as unpromising at school and was tipped by his teachers to fail in life; Ludwig van Beethoven was told by his music teacher that he was a hopeless composer with no artistic potential or sensitivity; Elvis Presley endured a difficult childhood and was told in his early years to give up music altogether and go and drive a truck; Walt Disney was once dismissed from a newspaper firm after being told that he had no creativity; J. K. Rowling suffered from severe depression in her younger years and went broke to the extent that she almost went homeless. The list goes on (and some of the examples in the book are even worse than these), but the common thing between all of these ‘failures’ is that rather than giving up and yield to their adverse situations, they all bounced back in spectacular fashion and went on to become huge ‘success’ stories, and it seems that the lower and harder these people fail, the higher they bounce back. It requires a huge amount of mental strength and character to do this, and these people deserve immense admiration not only for their underlying talent but also for their mental fortitude. This all ties in with my previous point about the motivation for change in difficult situations, since it is only during adversity that we can do something proactive with ourselves and push ourselves further, which necessarily leads to personal development and growth. I have been very inspired by Steve Young’s book (downloadable from ibooks and kindle btw), and I can only reiterate my favourite phrase: don’t give up. Happy week everyone.

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