No. 1211



There is a little six-letter word in the English language that has far more impact on people’s lives than most of us ever realize. The word is “mentor” and means “a wise and trusted teacher or guide.” This truth was brought home to me some time ago when my good friend Coach Dale Brown sent me some excerpts from a book by Joey Green titled, “Famous Failures.”
Coach Brown and I have a wonderful relationship because we have a common bond: we both want to encourage others to be the best they can be. The book “Famous Failures” lists a plethora of well-known individuals in a variety of fields who were told by others that they would never make it, yet later went on to become a household name because of their outstanding success.
If you have been around awhile, most of the following names of people who achieved outstanding success will probably be well known to you, but maybe there is a story behind the story that will be both interesting and revealing. The most important thing in the life of each individual is that they did not quit when another person, who had the role of a “mentor,” sold them short. Here are some good examples: Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, but was later named the greatest athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN. Marilyn Monroe was dropped in 1974 by 20th Century Fox after one year under contract because production Chief Daryl Zanuck thought she was unattractive.
The famous children’s author Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers, and Seuss considered burning the manuscript. The book that was eventually published sold six million copies. Barbara Streisand’s Broadway debut opened and closed on the same night. Humphrey Bogart was fired from a job reading playets for laxatives. He then earned a living playing chess for 50 cents a round. Walt Disney’s first cartoon production company went bankrupt. The Beatles were rejected in 1962 by Decca, Pye, Phillips, Columbia and HMV labels. And here is a shocker: Elvis Presley’s music teacher at L.C. Humes High School in Memphis gave him a “C” and told him he couldn’t sing.
In Joey Green’s book “Famous Failures” the list is almost endless, but without the specifics here are other well-known names of individuals who failed one or more times before they achieved great notoriety: Lucille Ball, John F. Kennedy, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Mick Jagger, Gen. Douglas McArthur, Albert Einstein, Wilma Rudolph, R.H. Macy, Henry Ford, Randy Travis, Rudyard Kipling and best-selling author John Grisham, whose first novel was rejected by 16 agents and a dozen publishers.
By now, the message here should be loud and clear. We should be very careful to whom we listen, even those in authority, if we believe in ourselves and are willing to make a personal commitment and stay the course. Over the years I have developed a simply philosophy that has been very good to me. If it is worth my time, it is worth doing well. The great thing about this simple philosophy; the more we succeed, the stronger our commitment will be to do our very best and to stay the course. No one can ask more of themselves or others. Now, if I may, let me bring this a little closer to home. What kind of talent, ability, or passion do you have that you need to develop and use to become more successful?
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)