Monday 17th December 17:29

"Travolta's Law"

Hi everyone,

If there is one thing that people don't want to be these days, it's a "failure". Watch any of the spate of reality TV competitions, and everyone longs to be a success. Everyone, from the hopefuls to the hopeless, wants to win. Nobody wants to be kicked off. Nobody wants to fail.

But failure is part of everyone's life and so something we need to come to terms with.

The actor John Travolta knew both success and failure. He hit the big time with the movie "Saturday Night Fever" when he was just 23 but, soon after, every movie that he was in bombed. As he said some years later, "I did things the wrong way round. The success came first, and then the failures."

People want to go through life as successes but that isn't the way  life works. If you want to be a success, you first need to fail. It's like black and white. You can't have one without the other.

The movie producer Jerry Zucker learnt about failure and success from the self-same John Travolta. It was just after Zucker's third film, "Top Secret" came out. The critics panned it. Zucker, his brother, and their friend Jim Abraham were commiserating with each other over pie in Rumpelmeyer's coffee shop in New York when in walked John Travolta.

"What's up guys?" asked Travolta.

Zucker explained how bad things were.

Travolta just smiled and said, "Guys, what you have to realise is that, even though you feel the world is falling down around you, nobody else is paying much attention to it. You're the only ones for whom success matters so you're the only ones who are obsessed with this so-called failure. To everyone else, it's really just a blip on the radar. By the way, anyone want that pie?"

Zucker found the advice totally liberating. It enabled him to come to terms with the failure of "Top Secret" and move on. Not long after, he produced the hugely successful films "Naked Gun" and "Ghost".

That's the sort of advice I wish that others could have. Failure doesn't mean the end of the world. It only means you haven't succeeded yet. And, of course, failure gives you far more lessons than success. It's just nature's way of telling you which of your approaches to life ain't working.

Eric

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