Friday, June 17, 2022

My Best Mistake

 Is this compatible with my previous blog on Regrets?  On one hand this is about how people have overcome an obstacle/mistake to gain further success and claim they don't regret and in fact are glad for the obstacles.  On the other hand I would suggest they each handled a setback that most would regret in hindsight by dealing with it in a better manner.  Daniel Pink would tell you that problems offer opportunities.

The world of sports reveals many mistakes, particularly for a manager who has to decide who to draft, and who to play.  One example was Scotty Bowman, considered to be one of the best hockey brains made a mistake that could have ended his career before it got launched.  After an injury cut his hockey playing days short he had been given an opportunity to work with Sam Pollock.  One of his tasks had been to notify players that they didn't make the cut.  When a young Serge Savard showed up expecting accommodation, a few months after it was embarrassing and costly as he should have been notified.  It is hard to pinpoint who really made the mistake, but Scotty's job was on the line.  Before too long the mistake was  smoothed over and Serge went on to be a Montreal top player and Scotty went on to become one of the top hockey coaches of all time.

 Politics offers a lot of opportunities for mistakes.  It is very easy to offend someone and if you offend the wrong one it can be disastrous.  Bill Maher and the Dixie Chicks suffered for being outspoken.

Shortly after the 9/11 attack, a guest on Bill's show, Dinesh D'Souza made a statement that the attackers were not cowards.  Bill agreed , "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from two thousand miles away.  That's cowardly.  Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."  Sponsors backed out and critics led a charge that resulted in cancellation and blocked Bill's employment.  Eventually he returned to television as many did respect his honesty and he was able to maintain a provocative stance.

Steve Jobs is one of the most interesting characters discussed.  For me some new information was provided or maybe it was a reminder.   His birth mother requested her son be adopted by two college graduates, but initial effort failed and she had to be persuaded to accept two parents who had dropped out of high school, but turned out to be helpful for an innovator.  As usual it is difficult to read about Jobs without describing him as an "asshole," but he is deemed to have offsetting qualities.  After setting up Apple and proving his genius he offended board members so much that they forced him out of his own company.  Twelve years later he returned and helped launch Apple into its current maga status.

Mario Puzo is best known for "The Godfather." (1972), but the main reason he wrote it was to pay off gambling debts.  Gambling would be a big mistake that just keep putting him in a deeper hole.  He had written two books that received good reviews and was able to eke out a living with magazine articles and editing.  He wanted to be taken as a serious writer and resisted turning an outline (presented to get some needed cash) into an actual book.  With his back against the wall he did do the book, but along the way made another mistake--he accepted a low offer for the movie rights.  Partly in compensation he was offered to write the movie script which won him his first of two Oscars. 

Farmer's Almanac had one secret formula and one incredible fluke (a fortuitous mistake).  A brother in law of mine used to quote their weather predictions, one of which was a little off.  Going back to the founder Robert B. Thomas felt he needed a weather forecast for his annual reference guide.  Surprisingly he was able learn about Galileo's observation about sun spots that affected our global weather in an 11 year cycle.  That  worked pretty good, but one year 1816, the owner had been ill and unable to write the forecast.  When pressed he joked there would be snow in July.  It was recognized as a mistake, but it was too late to destroy all the printed copies.   A massive volcanic eruption in the Dutch East Indies  and its dust circled the earth lowering temperatures which resulted in July snow in the United States.  This helped to consolidate the reputation for the Farmer's Almanac.

Other covered notable celebrities that overcame mistakes include Billy Joel, Brian Williams, Steve Spielberg and Seth MacFarlane.

While many of us wallow in our mistakes and failings others have learned, persisted and overcome them.  Some mistakes are actually innovative and good luck.

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