Failed? Join The Club

“Flops are a part of life’s menu and I’’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.”” – Rosalind Russell

When I talk about success, people sometimes get the idea that I have had nothing but. The truth is I am constantly failing. In small things and in important ones. One particular failure – my inability to be a good waiter –still haunts me.

I was in my 20s, going to college and supporting myself by writing essays for other students and, on weekends, waiting at Scottie’s Restaurant. Scottie was Jewish, but he decided early in his career that appropriating a crude Scottish accent would make him successful. And perhaps it did. The restaurant was one of the busiest for miles.

About six weeks after I started, Scottie called me into his office. (Imagine the following said with a crude Scottish accent.)

“Mark, me boy. I’ve got to talk with ye.”

“What is it, Scottie?”

“I’’m sorry to tell ye this, lad, but I must let ye go.”

“Let me go, Scottie? But why? I haven’t missed a day. Haven’’t come in late. And I’’ve never dropped a tray.”

“It’’s not that, my son.”

“Then what is it?”A grave look came over his face. He shook his head. “Oh, don’’t make me tell ye.”“Scottie. You must tell me. I deserve to know.”He bowed his head and thought a moment. Then he put a hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye. “OK,” says he. “I’’ll put it to you straight.”

I took a deep breath as he paused.

“You’’re a hump, me boy. You’’re a hump.”

I never found the courage to ask him what a hump was. I took off my apron and left, not even bothering to get my tips for the night. The shame has never left me.

Walt Disney had this to say about failure:

“I think it’’s important to have a good hard failure when you are young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. Once you‘’ve lived through the worst, you’’re never quite as vulnerable afterwards.”

I hope you’’ve had your big failure already –and have learned from it. If not, remember Walt Disney’’s words when it happens.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]