Thursday, September 5, 2013

Failing Successfully

As I was perusing my usual sources of articles on the internet, I ran across one from the L.A. Times. The headline: Many highly paid CEOs end up as failures, report says. The first paragraph jumped out at me:
Nearly 40% of the nation’s best-paid CEOs over the past two decades were either fired, forced to take government bailouts or in charge of companies that paid huge amounts in fraud-related claims.
I'll leave it to you to read the rest of the article if you're interested. And since it's Thursday, my intent isn't so much to point out an article you might have missed as it is to take the idea and extrapolate it so that can become fodder for future story ideas.

There are so many ways I can go at this one. Hmmm...

What if it didn't matter what you did, you'd still make lots of money anyway? (Or the opposite, no matter what you did, you couldn't get out of poverty?) 

What is your definition of success?


  1. Welcome to socialism! I think as soon as you take competition out of the corner, you kill the human spirit.

  2. I think it would make a good comedy if there was someone who kept trying to fail at something and yet succeeded in some crazy, unexpected way. Pretty funny.

  3. Re: Jeanne's comment...the place where I work used to do this forced ranking system where Management would rank each associate from best to worst every week. The idea made me so mad that I set out to be the worst associate every week, just so none of my co-workers had to suffer that humiliation.

    Despite my best efforts (and they really should have worked because I was a terrible employee), I failed every damn week. I was never the worst associate, and often times I was one of the best.

    Never did make a lot of money though.

  4. If my own efforts had nothing to do with what I earned, I would like to be a full-time writer. Barring that, possibly a teacher.

    I like being a lawyer, but other lawyers make the job worse than it has to be. And I'd go into politics, except that I wouldn't want to do it the way that you have to in order to be successful -- so much campaigning! When I ran for judge, it was annoying to have to campaign once per week.

    I've already had to make the decision to do what I love rather than do what pays the most, though: several times I was offered higher-paying jobs as a lawyer at another firm. I stuck with my firm, which not only offered a high quality of life but which had offered me a job when I was desperate (read: poor) and which then gave me raises first when I wanted to buy a house and second when we had the twins and couldn't afford daycare, so they raised my pay and allowed my wife to quit her job.

    People ask why I go into work nearly every Saturday: it's because I'm paying back my former boss, now partner, for helping me along the way.

    But the point is that I make less money now than I could if I went to another firm and was willing to do what many lawyers do to make really big money: work long hours, walk all over other people and other litigants, generally be an A**hole, etc. I'm not willing to do that.

    Also: it's not 'socialism' to take away incentives, Crystal. And there are plenty of incentives beyond simply making obscene amounts of money. You should read this:

  5. If it didn't matter what I did, I'd write without the guilt of knowing I could make more money doing something else. If i knew there was no chance of escaping poverty—which is pretty much my situation given that I write full time—I guess I'd continue to write for as long as I can, which is what I'm doing.

    Success is reaching a personal goal no matter how big or how small. It's setting objectives, taking responsibility for one's choices and control of one's destiny. I don't believe you can fall into success. You can fall into money or into a promotion, but unless you've worked toward those goals, where is the meaning?

    VR Barkowski

  6. A lot of today's CEO's are crooks and backstabbers. That probably goes along with failing. It's a big "FU" to the system kind of like Walter White does in Breaking Bad and then a "I can make more money by doing crooked things" mantra. I remember working for an agency in Idaho. The woman who was in charge touted she was a high school drop out and making six figures. But character-wise, she slept her way to the top and backstabbed everyone that ever crossed her. My point is that our system rewards liars, crooks, and sociopaths. If you are one of those, you rise to the top like cream just as long as you don't get caught.


I appreciate your comments.

I respond to comments via email, unless your profile email is not enabled. Then, I'll reply in the comment thread. Eventually. Probably.