The view from the perch in the middle-aged cheap seats is often backward looking, or at least a bit reflective. The passing of another St. Patrick’s Day last week had me pondering a bit about luck and success and how we define who we are or what we’ve accomplished. Mighty deep thoughts indeed! Particularly on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish are thought of as a lucky tribe, the whole “pot of gold” or “Luck O’ the Irish” thing. However, as a group the Irish have also certainly suffered their share of heartache and adversity. It seems to me that it’s the overcoming of obstacles and tragedies, such as the great potato famine, that enables us to truly celebrate and appreciate our successes. As it’s often been said, everyone loves to cheer for the underdog.
Just for fun, here are a few of my favorite “underdogs”, often viewed as tremendous achievers who have been blessed with great success. However, these folks were not always as lucky as you might think:
· In 1951 Julia Child, with Simone Beck and Lousiette Betholle, began testing recipes for a collaborative cookbook. It took a full decade before Mastering the Art of French Cooking was finally published in 1961.
· Harland David Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, had his famous secret chicken recipe rejected over 1,000 times before a restaurant agreed to use it.
· Legendary Babe Ruth, my favorite leftie, struck out a record 1,330 times at bat during regular season play. He also held the record of 714 homeruns for four decades.
· Lucille Ball, one of my personal heroes, was kicked out of her high school drama class because she was too shy. She went onto become one of the greatest and funniest dames of all time.
· James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected twenty-two times before he found a publisher who would take a chance. Only 379 copies sold the first year; 120 bought by the author himself. Joyce went on to write classics such as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Finnegans Wake.
· Susan Lucci, an actress famous for her decades-long portrayal of Erica Kane on the soap opera All My Children, was nominated for an Emmy a record eighteen times; not winning until her nineteenth try in 1999.
So, have you had set-backs that have led to your biggest successes? I would love to hear about them.
Hoping that today you my friends, just like Babe Ruth, will all be swinging for the fences,
PS: A birthday shout-out today to my truest friend Rodney, who is indeed one of the luckiest guys I have ever known. It ain’t the years baby, it’s the mileage.