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Overshadowing Failure
by Stephen A. Peterson 
07/20/12
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Overshadowing Failure
© 2012

by

Stephen A. Peterson


One of the most famous baseball players in American sports history struck out 1330 times, a record of failure approached by any other professional player in the history of baseball. Though he continues to hold this record, it is not what Babe Ruth is known for. The Babe’s 714 home runs completely overshadow the 1330 strike outs.

Cy Young, considered by sports experts of every era the greatest pitcher of all time, won a total of 511 baseball games. Since Cy Young’s era, there has never been a pitcher to threaten this record. The 511 victories is one of a few sports records that many believe will never be broken. However, what is almost never remembered or mentioned is that Cy Young lost more games than any pitcher in professional baseball history (316). He almost lost as many games as he won.

The most successful inventor anywhere and at any time is Thomas Edison. His inventions did more for humankind than any other person. Yet more than two-thirds of his experiments were failures never amounting to anything. During this life and following, one would be hard pressed to find any writer who would report Edison to have been an unsuccessful inventor.

Without question, United States Army General George Patton is considered one of America’s finest field commanding generals. Yet during his entire military career, his decision making, battle tactics, and losses of men and equipment were routinely criticized as failures by his superiors. Some of his staff considered him a terrible leader and the worse officer they had ever served with. They based their assessment of Patton by the number of battles he lost that he could have or should won. However, his uncanny leadership style and aggressive battle tactics made him the most feared general officer to the German High Command during World War II.

In many circles, we are told any failure results in ruining one’s self-esteem leading ultimately to personal destruction. People would feel less sensitive to failure if they remember that in most instances it is a teachable moment as well as a guidepost toward success. If one studies closely the lives of the most successful men and women, virtually everyone will have instances of failure. Some will have experienced long periods of failure when giving up would have been easier than their suffering defeat. Successful men and women report their failures are pushed aside and made absurd by their shining successes.


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