Famous Failures – Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln and J.K. Rowling

I read an interesting article about failure recently, and found a few videos that I found inspirational and motivating.  Unable to find a suitable page that contained them all neatly in one place, I decided to write it myself.  Enjoy!

Michael Jordan Nike Commercial – “Failure”

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan


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Famous Failures

A list of Abraham Lincoln’s Failures:

  • Lost job, 1832
  • Defeated for legislature, 1832
  • Failed in business, 1833
  • Elected to legislature, 1834
  • Sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died, 1835
  • Had nervous breakdown, 1836
  • Defeated for Speaker, 1838
  • Defeated for nomination for Congress, 1843
  • Elected to Congress, 1846
  • Lost renomination, 1848
  • Rejected for Land Officer, 1849
  • Defeated for Senate, 1854
  • Defeated for nomination for Vice-President, 1856
  • Again defeated for Senate, 1858
  • Elected President, 1860

J.K. Rowling Speaks About Failure and How It Changed Her – Harvard Commencement Speech

Warning – unlike the previous two, this one is quite long.  Skip ahead to the end for another short, bite sized video, and chew on this one when you’ve got some time to spare!

Part 1


The Full Video and Text Transcription of J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech

USA Swim Team’s Unlikely Victory Over France in the 400M Relay – Beijing 2008 Olympics

Of course – sometimes you don’t fail.  With persistence, preparation and supreme effort when opportunity presents itself, we can prevail in even the toughest situations.  This is all my friends have been talking about today, and I hope you enjoy it.

An interesting note that ties this clip in with the theme of the rest of this post: Jason Lezak, the man who swam at an amazing pace and set a world record to bring the US team back from what seemed like certain defeat, has anchored the US team twice (in 2000 and 2004) at the Olympics, where they have lost.  He said this about his final lap:

After making the turn, Lezak said he momentarily lost the courage of his convictions. Bernard had a 0.6 of a second lead and Lezak was not sure he could reel him in. “I’m not going to lie,” he said. “The thought really crossed my mind for a split-second, ‘There’s no way.’ ”

Then he reminded himself that he was representing his country and this was the Olympics and he was not getting any younger so he had to make the most of this chance. “In five seconds I was thinking all these things,” Lezak said. “And I got a super charge.”

Unfortunately, I could not find a clip of the actual race to embed, but I think the commentary does it justice =)

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