Fail Then Rebound Then Succeed

Morgan O'Rourke


May 1, 2012

Everyone faces failure in their lives. But regardless of whether failure comes in the form of a personal crisis or a business setback, it's not about how you fail, but what you do next. For many people, failure is devastating. It spells the end of the line and goals that will forever remain unmet. But others seem to possess an ability to bounce back and use failure as a springboard for greater things. Author and chief business correspondent for U.S. News and World Report Rick Newman calls these people "rebounders" and suggests that this seemingly innate skill is something that anyone can acquire.

In Rebounders, Newman examines the lives of a variety of noteworthy figures from a wide spectrum of fields, including Thomas Edison, Pandora creator Tom Westergren, Vanguard Group CEO John Bogle, musician Lucinda Williams, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and tennis player James Blake, to illustrate this resilience in action. With each case study, Newman traces how early setbacks could have derailed promising careers and demonstrates how these individuals were able to rebound from adversity to ultimately achieve success.

In one dramatic example, he recounts the story of Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who became a secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs and a current Illinois congressional candidate after losing both her legs, and nearly her life, in combat. Her ability to rebound from horrific injuries now serves as inspiration for fellow injured veterans and shows how, for some people, failure is not an option.

But more than just serving as examples of success, these case studies reveal nine common characteristics that Newman believes differentiate rebounders from the rest of society. Among these are that rebounders are always inclined to action, they are willing and able to change their minds and shift their strategies, and they have more than just passion that drives them forward. While the stories told in Rebounders are interesting in their own right, it is these lessons that tie the book together and make it such an engaging read.

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)