Winning Through Failure

Posted on March 8, 2016 by Robert Ringer


Last week, I posted on Facebook some of my thoughts about Mitt Romney’s vile attack on Donald Trump. Had the impeccably manicured Mitt been half as harsh with Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential campaign, he probably would be preparing for a second term right now. But, unfortunately, he lacked either the principle or courage, or both, to do so.

It’s more than just a bit ironic that even though Romney had no difficulty brutally attacking Trump, he was a perfect gentleman to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race. He even went so far as to refer to him as “a nice guy.”

This, even though for four years Obama had repeatedly violated the Constitution, increased the national debt more than any other president in U.S. history, and lied repeatedly to the American people about everything from the cost of Obamacare to the cause of the Benghazi attacks.

Of course, everything in life has a price. And in Romney’s case, the price of his venomous tirade against Trump, whom he had gushingly praised just four years early when DT had endorsed his candidacy, is that he destroyed his squeaky clean, gentlemanly image.

It’s one thing to be thought of as a coward, as millions of GOP voters believed Romney to be in the last presidential election, but at least he was a coward whom everyone, including myself, thought was an authentically gracious coward. But after his Harry Reid-style attack on Trump last week, the mask is off and it is now clear that Romney is not authentic. Rather, to use his own words, he’s a first-class phony, a total fraud, and a colossal hypocrite to boot.

Without a slight tinge of embarrassment, Romney sounded like the increasingly unhinged Glenn Beck as he railed on and on about Donald Trump’s business failures. Once again, there’s an irony here, because throughout his 2012 campaign, Romney acted as though he was ashamed of his own success. It was a huge turnoff to millions of voters who believe fervently in the moral sanctity of capitalism.

Which brings me to Romney’s breathtaking remarks about Trump’s failures. Personally, I’ve always admired people who, after experiencing failure, have had the determination and confidence to get back up, brush themselves off, and keep moving forward.

In the case of Trump, he is purported to own more than 500 companies (including subsidiaries). That’s a remarkable number of enterprises for one person to bring into existence. And of that number, less than ten of them have “failed” (I use quote marks here because, financially speaking, there are many different kinds of failure) — among them Trump Airlines, Trump Vitamins, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, and, of course, a few casinos along the way.

That’s a success rate of about 98 percent! Which brings us back to MittMouth, whose company (Bain Capital), by his own admission, had only an 80 percent success rate. Further, it should be noted that Romney was in the venture capital business, where the typical business model calls for closing down unprofitable subsidiaries, laying off workers, and, in many cases, employing the option of voluntary bankruptcy.

Let me make it clear that I have no problem with Romney’s business model, because it’s capitalism in its purist form. True, his strategy generally involved loading his companies up with debt, then putting them into bankruptcy, which resulted in thousands of people being laid off and creditors losing millions of dollars. But, though there are those who believe there were questionable tactics involved in some of Romney’s deals, most of his deals were undoubtedly perfectly legal.

So, three cheers for Mitt Romney and his financial success. But three gigantic boos for his stunning hypocrisy in calling the pot black. That he would have the chutzpah, with a straight face, to say that Donald Trump has not been successful is not only absurd and hypocritical, it makes him look like a jealous fool.

On the subject of failure, Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, put it best when he said, “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” It’s no wonder Kiyosaki said that his respect for Donald Trump grew immensely when he read his book, The Art of the Comeback. It impressed him more than The Art of the Deal.

I would go one step further than Kiyosaki and say that success is not even possible without failure. Charles Koch, the world’s fifth wealthiest individual and chairman of Koch Industries, opined on the subject of failure in his book, The Science of Success, by saying, “Progress, whether in business, an economy or science, comes through experimentation and failure. Given that a market economy is an experimental discovery process, business failures are inevitable and any attempt to eliminate them only insures overall failure.”

One last topic I want to mention is corporate bankruptcy, which is very much related to failure. To keep bankruptcy in proper perspective, one must first understand the purpose of a corporation. When someone incorporates a business, he is giving birth to a new, standalone entity.

It’s a transparent method for serving legal notice on the world that proclaims: “You are now dealing with a separate entity, so check it out carefully on its own merits, financial and otherwise.” In other words, caveat emptor.

Put simply, the main purpose of forming a corporation is to legally protect shareholders from personal liability. So, in a sense, bankruptcy is the legalization of failure. Sorry, Mitt, but failure is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s an integral part of business. The only people who never fail are those who never try to succeed.

The takeaway here is not that Mitt Romney undressed himself in public and, in the process, made himself look mean spirited and petty. Most people already had very little respect for Romney, though for different reasons.

The real takeaway is that failure is not something to be ashamed of, and that a true entrepreneur embraces failure and learns from it. In that respect, one might say that failure is the mother’s milk of success. That’s why many venture capitalists actually prefer to invest in hi-tech individuals who already have one or two failures under their belts, because they realize that their bad experiences increase their chances of succeeding in a new venture.

That said, if you’re an entrepreneur — or an aspiring entrepreneur — be sure to make it a point to never, ever be afraid of failure. And, just as important, keep your distance from those fools and knaves who look their noses down on those who have failed. Especially if they happen to be failed presidential candidates.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.