Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Rebounding from Defeat


This is a short follow-up to Monday's Write and Write, and then Write Some More. Thanks to Krista Mercer who forward me the article from Wall Street Journal that talks about perseverance in the face of rejection.

Here are some classic examples: "In her new autobiography, Home, Julie Andrews tells of taking a screen test for MGM studios when she was 12 years old. 'They needed to gussy me up a bit because I was so exceedingly plain,' she writes. 'The final determination was: She's not photogenic enough for film.'

J.K. Rowling's book about a boy wizard was rejected by 12 publishers before a small London house picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Decca Records turned down a contract with the Beatles, saying, 'We don't like their sound.' Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said he 'lacked imagination.' Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school varsity basketball team sophomore year. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were rebuffed by Atari Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. when they tried to sell an early Apple computer. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries before he invented the light bulb."

"What makes some people rebound from defeat and go on to greatness, while others throw in the towel? Psychologists call it self-efficacy, the unshakeable belief some people have that they have what it takes to succeed. Self-efficacy differs from self-esteem in that it's a judgment of specific capabilities rather than a general feeling of self-worth. 'People need to learn how to manage failure so it's informational and not demoralizing,' says Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura. 'I've failed over and over and over again in my life. That's why I succeed,' Michael Jordan has said."

Read more about resiliency, determination, and optimism.


6 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Keira, this was great! I love to hear of greatness snatched from the jaws of defeat. Makes me think of the story about Fred Astaire doing a screen test with MGM. I think the story is that the assessor wrote a report that said, "Balding, can't sing, can't act, can dance a little." Fred went on to do all those legendary musicals for RKO with Ginger Rogers. Take that, stupid assessor!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Keira, loved your post. I think that sense of self-efficacy is particularly useful for creative types. Markets and tastes vary and change. A no from one person or 100 people doesn't mean that the next person you try won't say yes. And while we're striving for acceptance, we keep honing our craft, keep applying pressure, until a door opens and lets us in.
And then we have to keep doing it, over and over as new challenges arise.

Christie Kelley said...

Keira, what a great post. And I can tell you that self-efficacy is very true. I know too many writers who take rejections personally. They keep forgetting that the agent/publisher didn't reject them, it was one piece of their work. That doesn't mean that they will reject the next project from that person. But if you don't believe in yourself, then you will give up at the first opportunity.

So believe!!

Keira Soleore said...

Great example, Foanna. "Balding, can't sing." Har. Har. I sure would've liked to have seen that agent's face at the release of Astaire's first musical.

Keira Soleore said...

Stephen King is a such a great example, Christine, of the keep on trying and keep faith while trying. It takes obdurate will to strive and believe in the face of rejection. But that's precisely what we admire in our heroes and heroines. We want them to be resilient and to grow and to believe, despite insurmountable odds and all that we throw at them.

Even saying we in the above line takes courage for me, because I'm putting myself in the company of you, Foanna, and Christie—successful, published, beloved writers.

Keira Soleore said...

Thank you for that, Christie. Every time I see a "believe" in the subject line, I trust some more that (like the little engine), "I can."