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The Biggest Losers

5 minutes

The world is full of losers and I have compiled a short list of the biggest ones for your reading pleasure.  If you are the type that enjoys reading about other people’s failures, then by all means, read on!

The NBA’s Biggest Loser

Even the NBA is without exception to making mistakes.  The NBA grabbed this particular player right out of an east coast university where he played professionally for 15 seasons.  Not bad, right?  But this Big Loser didn’t play up to expectations.  In the mid-1980’s, he was drafted as the number three overall pick.  

Over his career, this particular player made a LOT of mistakes.  According to his stats, he missed over 9,000 shots.  He was ultimately responsible for losing over 300 games.  And 26 times, he found himself holding the ball at the final second of the game to take the winning shot, only to miss.  www.chriswwerner.comIn fact, if you look at this guy’s history, you will see a life peppered with failures, both big and small.  But it isn’t his failures that you typically hear about– it is his successes.  Not only has he missed that many shots, lost that many games, but he is regarded as one of the best (the best, if you ask me) professional basketball players ever to play the game.  His name: Michael Jordan.

Drawing Up A Failure Or Two 

The story of this next Big Loser is a long one, but I will condense it for your reading pleasure.  Born in Missouri in 1901, then moving to Kansas City, Missouri with his four other siblings, life was hard.  He worked a paper route in school to help with family expenses, oftentimes falling asleep during class from the long hours spent on the paper route.  

During World War I, he tried to join the Army but was rejected because he was too young.  So he did what any patriot of the time would do, he lied about his age and joined up.   The Army took him as an ambulance driver, but by the time he got overseas the armistice had already happened.  So out of boredom, he started drawing pictures on the side of his ambulance.  

Because he wanted to be an artist, he got a job after the war at a publishing company.  Soon after getting hired, he was fired.  So he started a cartoon company with a friend of his.  But due to lack of interest and business, this cartoon business soon went under.  Penniless and jobless, this Big Loser started working on developing his own techniques of creating cartoons in his family garage with his brother. Eventually, this Big Loser grew his fledgling animation studio into a slightly well-known studio you may have heard of: Disney Animation Studios.   

The Sweetest Loser

This next Big Loser may be somebody you have heard of.  Born in 1857, this Big Loser was fired from his first job, started a business only to later declare bankruptcy, then start yet another business, only to go out of business again in three short years.  www.chriswwerner.comThis Big Loser actually started a fairly successful company after the second business went under, called The Lancaster Caramel Company.  This business actually flourished.  He ended up having over 1,300 people on his payroll and had two factories making caramels in bulk for most of the world.  But this guy wasn’t happy with this business so he sold it for a cool $1 million.  He used the proceeds to start his final company which, in turn, ended up dwarfing his old caramel company in comparison.  You may have heard of it- The Hershey Chocolate Company and this guy’s name was Milton Hershey.  

This Biggest Loser Is It!

During the American Civil War, this wounded Confederate soldier found himself jobless and addicted to morphine, which was the drug of choice in treating wounded soldiers.  So to break his own dangerous addiction, he developed a drink made from kola nuts and coca leaves.  It worked and he then started peddling it in small towns as a medicine that cures anything from indigestion to impotence.   

Did his medicinal concoction actually cure these ailments?  Nope.  It was just the typical snake oil that salesmen would sell across the country at the time.  But this Loser didn’t sell enough of his elixir to even put food on the table.  In his first year, he sold a total of 27 bottles of the stuff.  That’s only about two bottles a month!  Hardly a winning effort, in my opinion.www.chriswwerner.comYou’d think after a year of selling only 27 bottles, one might throw in the towel and quit.  This guy couldn’t take a hint.  So this Big Loser changed his strategy a bit and started selling it in soda fountains around the country, which were really starting to gain momentum in popularity at the time.   I guess, overall, this was good for him because his elixir business is still around today.  This particular business still sells the original elixir (slightly modified, now), along with bottled water, flavored water, and energy drinks.  They are Coca-Cola.  Heard of them?

The Jig Is Up 

You figured it out.  I know that you are smart.  These Losers were actually not losers at all.  They were all winners.  So, why were they winners and not losers?  Every single one of these stories could have easily gone the route of “failure.”  At any point in these stories, the protagonist could have thrown in the proverbial towel and moved on to something else.  But they didn’t.  They persevered.  They persisted.  The did not quit.  I can’t say whether the thought of quitting crossed their minds or not, but history tells us that they obviously didn’t.  

Jordan did not relish on past losses or missed opportunities.  He took advantage of the opportunities he had.  Yeah, he missed over 9,000 shots.  But what I left out was that he scored 32,292 total points in his career.  That’s a lot.  Walt Disney started Disney Studios in his family garage.  What I left out was that he was experimenting with a new method of animation, which made his characters more life-like for the times.  

Milton Hershey failed as a businessman more than once before starting a candy company– and even then, wasn’t happy with it so he sold it.  His heart was in becoming a chocolatier.  Coca-Cola saw that selling the drink as a “medicine” was not working, but people really liked the taste.  So he changed his strategy, marketing it as a refreshing drink.

The Parting Shot

These “Losers” were nothing of the sort.  They never saw anything they did as a “failure.”  They simply saw outcomes in their experiences.  That’s it.  That is their secret.  

Once we make the leap in no longer looking at our circumstances as failures, but merely as outcomes,  can we actually move forward towards victory.  If the outcome is not desirable, change the formula, experiment around with the project until the results are desirable.  

So, which outcomes need to be changed in your life?  Someday will we be talking about you as the next Biggest Loser?


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This post was created with the help of:
Post-surgical medications and boredom. Lots of boredom.


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4 thoughts on “The Biggest Losers”

  • Persistence is so important. When you hit a road block in life it may feel like the end of the road. In reality it may just be the beginning. Great write up!

    What is a road block you have hit but pushing through paid off?

    • Agreed- I think too often, people end up quitting or giving up too early. All my life I have wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. For as long as I could remember, this is what I wanted to be. In my journey to become an AF pilot, I hit many obstacles head-on and probably should have given up.

      First, I wasn’t accepted to the Air Force Academy, which wasn’t good for the ego. So I went to a state university instead. And after college, the Air Force wasn’t hiring pilots so I took a job teaching middle school math. When the Air Force started hiring pilots again, I applied and didn’t get accepted as a pilot, but as a navigator which was the kiss of death in me becoming a pilot (after the Air Force spends a lot of $$ training a person to be a navigator, they typically don’t like to spend more $$ to send them to pilot training). Anyways, at each of these obstacles, even though everyone told me that I was done, that there was no way I’d get accepted to pilot training, I persisted.

      Eventually, after almost 4 years as a navigator, my absolute last chance for the Air Force to send me to pilot training (due to my age), I applied. The timing was perfect, and with a lot of luck on my side, I finally was accepted… The rest is history.

      That is the abridged version of the story…

      Thanks again for reading, commenting and great question!

  • Excellent, inspiring post Chris. I always enjoy your content. Here are some expressions about failure that I routinely tell my kids, the folks who work for me, my friends…basically anyone who will (or has to :-)) listen:

    -The Chinese symbol for “crisis” is the same as the symbol for “opportunity.” When you fail, you have a new opportunity to succeed.

    -The Japanese have an expression about failure – “fall down 7 times, get up 8.” Don’t ever give up.

    -Kids aren’t born learning to walk. They trip, stumble, even fall flat on their faces. But it is through these failures that they learn to walk, and eventually to run.

    I can already hear my kids telling me to stop with the expressions, so I will stop. But it’s definitely true that failure is a necessary part of success, and that you have to keep believing in yourself. Keep up the great work!

    • Love those expressions- thanks for sharing! And yes, I tell my kids very similar things (and I am sure I get the same eye rolls). Thank you so much for reading and commenting!


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