What is Success Anyway? Another Look

Novelist and philosopher, Alain de Botton, author of On Love: A Novel and How Proust Can Change Your Life has a talent for out-of-the-ordinary interpretations of what is visible to all. For example, he reports the following headline to describe Oedipus:

“Sex With Mom was Blinding!”

And, pity the Ferrari owner: he suggests that “the next time you see someone driving a Ferrari, don’t think of  them as greedy, but as someone incredibly vulnerable and in need of love.”

In the following presentation, courtesy of ted.org, Botton offers a kinder, gentler view of “success” and “failure.”

Even the Best of the Best can go Through Hard Times

Anyone a little bit interested in professional tennis knows Roger Federer. He is the most recent best of the best. He was untouchable. Two years ago he tied, or was about to tie, former best of the best’s Pete Sampras’s record, and was heading toward beating it.

And man was he cool. He’d play, he’d win, he was always cool and calm, poised and charming, confident, magnanimous and easygoing.

Then came the 2009.  In February, at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal, of Spain, beat Federer.

And formerly cool and collected Federer cried during the award ceremony after losing to Nadal,

Then, a couple months later, at the Sony-Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, after blowing a forehand in match against Serbian contender, Novak Djokovic, Federer threw down his racket in frustration and broke it.


Suddenly, Mr. Unbeatable-cool-and-poised-on-and-off-court was being described by tennis pundits as being a “very emotional player.” Even, “he was always a very emotional player.” Always? Really?

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