Failing … to Succeed


Peter Klein writes, “To illustrate the importance of experimentation and learning, I showed my students the Michael Jordan ‘Failure’ commercial. Inexplicably, they were not moved to tears, as I was.” J.K Rowling’s 2008 graduation address at Harvard is also a nice example though it may be a bit long to play in class.

Contributed by Peter Klein

One thought on “Failing … to Succeed

  1. Interesting commercial— needless to say, I agree on the experimenting/learning point. However, I don’t think that the Jordan commercial captures the key point. Jordan says at the end of the commercial, “I have failed over and over…and that is why I succeed”. The problem is that experimentation is a mechanism that drives both successful and unsuccessful outcomes. In contrast to this commercial, I think that the real story hinges on Nike’s earlier line of commercials, “Just do it” — where taking action (and a tolerance for failure) is coupled with the use of a learning mechanism that biases future outcomes towards success.

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