Anonymous Distributor

John Calipari, head coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, is one of the most fascinating basketball coaches you will ever meet. He is calm and animated at the same time. He is intense, yet introspective. He loves to — and lives to — win. And he always, always, always lives by the credo, “Players First.” His new book bears that title.

But perhaps his most valuable lesson is that he tells his players, “Fail fast. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Fail fast, and we’ll correct.”

Michael Jordan, one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball, says it best when talking about the power of failure: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is the main reason I have succeeded.” Failing often means you’re attempting to be more successful no matter what the odds. That in itself is a sign of success.


Seth Godin recently talked about the difference between a doctor and a plumber. It’s not what you think.

Godin said, “The plumber, the roofer and the electrician sell us a cure. They come to our house, fix the problem, and leave.

“The consultant, the doctor (often) and the politician sell us the narrative. They don’t always change things, but they give us a story, a way to think about what’s happening.

“Often, that story helps us fix our problems on our own. That’s why the best parents, teachers and bosses are in the story business, helping their kids, students and employees solve problems on their own.”

Helping others solve problems by using a narrative is a solution we should all be interested in developing.


Harvey Mackay recently told a terrific story about Bernie Marcus, the former CEO of Home Depot. Mackay interviewed Marcus for his 2004 book We Got Fired!… And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us (Random House). What Marcus learned in 1978 from a close business friend on how to respond to being fired at age 49 changed his life forever.

“In 1978, Bernie Marcus was fired as the CEO of Handy Dan Home Improvement Center chain by Sanford C. ‘Sandy’ Sigoloff, who ran the parent corporation, Daylin. Bernie was 49 years old and had never been fired before. He called it ‘the low point in his life.’ Bernie was wounded and aching. His first and only thoughts were about getting even.

“‘It’s interesting when you have a low like this, you reach one point where you have a chance of coming out or not coming out,’ he said. ‘If you come out, you’re better than you ever were. If you don’t come out, you become what they commonly refer to as a loser. If you come out, it’s usually because of the influence someone has on you.’

“Fortunately for Bernie, that influence was Sol Price, founder of Price Club, which has since become part of Costco. Price phoned Bernie and invited him to dinner at his home in San Diego.

“Bernie arrived for dinner and got right to the point: ‘My contract with Daylin was worth a million dollars. Sandy broke the contract. I want to get back at him. Right now, I’m suing Sandy for that million.’

“To wage the suit, Bernie said he was eating up cash like it was going out of style. Price understood, and the strategy he offered was truly priceless.

“After dinner, Price took Bernie to a room in his house filled with papers stacked five- to six-feet high and no furniture. They were all depositions from a lawsuit Sol had been involved with. He told Bernie that the lawsuit consumed much of his energy and strength for three years of his life.

“Price told Bernie: ‘Why are you spending your young life suing somebody? Why don’t you just forget about it and go on and live your life? Otherwise, you’re going to end up with a room like this.’

“The next morning when Bernie woke up, he said he really woke up. I called the attorneys and said, ‘You’re off the case. End the litigation. I’m going on with my life.’

“Just where did Bernie go? One year later in 1979, he and Arthur Blank launched The Home Depot, which became the fastest-growing retailer in U.S. history.

“You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you are trying to get even with them because in order to get even with them, you have to stoop to their level. If you didn’t like their tactics, why would you want to emulate them?

“I am not in any way advocating being a patsy for another’s bad behavior. But you must weigh whether bringing another person down will lift you up. Take the high road whenever you can — it’s usually not too crowded.

“You must also consider what exacting revenge does to your physical and mental health. Will it really make you feel better? Consider the words of Martin Luther King Jr., an advocate for forgiveness and peace: ‘The old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.’”


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