The current NBA playoffs got me thinking back 25 years to when the Utah Jazz had two chances in a row of claiming the title, and likely would have done so had not a certain player by the name of Michael Jordan gotten in their way. In their final effort in 1998 the Jazz were stopped with just five seconds remaining on the clock when Jordan hit one of his most memorable shots.
Ironically, despite being arguably the best basketball player of all time, Jordan ended his career with a 49.7% field goal percentage and only 33% from the three-point line. Meaning, statistically, the great Michael Jordan missed more baskets than he hit. This sports statistic is not unique to basketball. Ty Cobb retains the highest batting average in MLB history at .366. Which means that two thirds of the time he went up to the plate, he failed to get a hit. The greatest football quarterbacks miss a third of their passes, the best NHL players score on only 10% of their shots, and in pro soccer teams average 140 possessions yet score less than two goals per game. Despite the poor success rate, Forbes lists soccer player Lionel Messi as the highest paid athlete in the world. Is it odd that in sports we idolize people who fail more than they succeed?
Athletes are not the only ones plagued by failure. According to the SBA, 50% of business startups fail within the first five years. And in the most recognized stock index of all time, the Dow Jones Average, not a single original member remains.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life is that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is the way in which they view, and react to failure. Michael Jordan failed to score more than he succeeded, but he become the greatest player of all time because he never stopped shooting. He never let the last missed shot stop him from taking the next one.
I regularly have people come to my office who gave up on investing years ago after a personal financial failure. Now, years later, they are struggling to pay the bills. In retrospect they can see that a relatively small investing failure led to a far bigger one when, in sporting terms, they made the critical mistake of taking themselves out of the game.
Warren Buffet is the Michael Jordan of investing. It isn’t because he is so uniquely brilliant. It is because he stayed in the game and never let his failures, of which he had many, determine his final outcome.If you want to succeed financially in life, you have to stay in the game and keep shooting. If you hit a dry spell don’t worry about it. In time you’ll start hitting those shots again. Failures are an important part of life. They can either discourage or motivate us. The decision is ours.
Dan Wyson, CFP® is author of “The Gold Egg," and “21 Financial Myths” and owner of Wyson Financial/Wealth Management 375 E. Riverside Dr. St. George, UT 84790 - 435-986-9525 – Securities and Advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment advisor