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Friday Weekly Nuggets 03: Failure doesn’t matter, Success matters.
The courage to try again no matter how many times you fail.
I came across an interesting statistic this week. Below are two tables; on the left is the list of players who have missed the most shots in NBA history and on the right, a list of the people who have scored the most points in NBA history.
You may be surprised to find that both lists are pretty similar. Kobe Bryant leads the list of players with the most “failed” shot. The “failed shots” list also includes some of the people considered as the best to have ever played the game of basketball: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vince Carter, Wilt Chamberlain, etc.
The players with the most shooting success are also the same people who have failed the most. They missed a lot of shots but nobody remembers these people for all their failures. The lesson here is: Your failures won’t matter when you succeed.
Failing on something that is important to you is never fun. Failure sometimes feels like an indication of who we are as a person. But being afraid to fail can stand in our way of being successful. It doesn’t matter what your probability of failure is. If there is a 90% chance of failure, there’s a 10% chance of being successful. The best players miss the most shots, but they are successful because they never shy away from an opportunity to shoot again regardless of how many times they miss.
Kobe Bryant in a game against Utah Jazz in May 1997 during his rookie season missed four shots in five minutes. They were not just regular misses, they were airballs. (An airball in basketball is a shot attempt that misses the rim or backboard completely, and does not go into the basket). Four airballs in five minutes. The Lakers lost the game.
Looking back at that moment years later, Kobe said “It was an early turning point for me in being able to deal with adversity, deal with public scrutiny and self-doubt. I look back at it now with fond memories, but back then it was misery.”
Failure won’t feel good in the moment, but keep shooting. When you succeed, all the past failures won’t matter.
Thoughts from Others
I like to say, failure does not matter, it’s the success that matters. And nobody remembers what you failed at. So, everybody remembers Sun (Sun Microsystems). Does anybody know a company I started before Sun, that McNealy and I started together? Any hands?
There was a company called Data Dump, which we started and got funded three months before Sun. Didn’t work out. We started both roughly together. But my point is people don’t remember your failures. And I like to say my willingness to fail is what gives me the ability to succeed. – Vinod Khosla
The title for this week’s nugget is inspired by a talk from Vinod Khosla at Stanford Business School. Here is the link for anyone who wants to check it out