Learning From Failure A Presidential Necessity?

I'm just spit-balling here, but I have a hunch that most people who have ever lived have made at least one mistake or faced some kind of failure. Probably more than one. There's also a belief in many circles that making a mistake can have some positive effects. The stipulation, in most cases, is that you first recognize that you actually made the mistake or had a failure. Do I really need to list the more than 10,000 profound quotes about how failure, mistakes and obstacles, when learned from, can provide powerful benefits?

Okay. One.

A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner. --English Proverb

Or in other words, the problem comes not from the problem, but by not understanding there is a diamond in the rough.

In this year's presidential campaign there's plenty of mistakes to go around, even for the third party candidates - "What is Aleppo?" Clinton has been far from perfect.

"...you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables."

Her apology was pretty shaky.

"Last night, I was 'grossly generalistic' and that's never a good idea."

I see. "Baskets of deplorables" is fine. Only the percentage of deplorables was off.


Still, she has closed the barn doors on any additional "deplorable" use. Did she learn anything? Possibly.

Donald Trump, when not on Fox News, has made Twitter his 24/7 bullhorn of choice. Through it he has made some missteps. Missteps, plural. What's worse, they are the same missteps. Most recently, instead of ending his early morning personal attacks against former Miss Universe, Alisha Machado, attacks that were taking the focus of what had been a growing credibility of his "change" message, he doubled, tripled and quadrupled down. He even suggested that people make a 5 A.M. search for a supposed sex tape.

While this was the first scavenger sex tape hunt in presidential campaign history, Trump's penchant for chronic personal attacks have triggered lowering polls most every time he tweets a zinger. From Meghan Kelly to Khizer Khan to Machado, Trump not only hit once or twice, but in each case he seemed not to learn he was hurting himself by creating at least of week of squeamish news headlines and unwinnable wars.

His supporters excuse the Trump verbal and twitter political by explaining that he is not a politician. He doesn't speak in canned political statements. Instead he plain-speaks what's on his mind and sometimes when he does that he slips into comments and issues that he wouldn't say if he were a politician.

Not being a politician may seem an encouraging move to a different method of governing, but different does not mean better nor beneficial to anyone. I know a lot of people who are not politicians. I love my mother, who is not a politician, but you wouldn't vote her into the presidency, unless you want to be made to feel guilty from not calling her enough.

What about Trump the successful businessman? You know, the business acumen that took a near billion dollar loss in 1995 perpetuating a possible eighteen years of paying no federal taxes. If so, no crime. Some may question the professional (in)competence of being able to lose a billion in a single year. Then again, there is nothing illegal about it. And there would be nothing illegal with taking deductions eighteen years to reduce his taxes to zero. Unfortunately, there is no tax deduction available to the country.

I know a number of successful business people who are wonderful and others who are creeps. None of them would get my vote based solely on their business success.

There's no question that stepping into the Oval Office for the first time and running the most powerful country in the world, mistakes will be made. Failures will happen.

John Kennedy admitted responsibility for the Bay of Pigs failure. Bill Clinton apologized for his scandal with Lewisnsky saying it was entirely of his own making. His popularity soared. President Reagan took responsibility participation in the Iran-Contra Scandal. He said: "Now, what should happen when you make a mistake is this: You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on."

The question is, will the next president be someone who is courageous enough to admit and learn from his or her mistakes?

We can only hope.

Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful...Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and other Steppingstones to Success." www.greatfailure.com