LIFE cover on Bay of Pigs


Robert Greene’s seminal ’33 Strategies’ has been a regular source of historical and military insights into both Leadership/Management as well as embracing failure as it examines the many lessons of defeats such as…

  1. Victory and defeat are what you make of them; it is how you deal with them that matters. Since defeat is inevitable in life, you must master the art of losing well and strategically.”
  2. If you see that defeat is inevitable, it is often best to go down swinging. That way you end on a high note even as you lose. This helps to rally the troops, giving them hope for the future.” (eg. Battle of the Alamo)
  3. Since any ending is a kind of beginning of the next phase, it is often wise strategy to end on an ambivalent note.”
  4. Beat off these attacks he delivers against himself, and cast out the doubts born of failure. Forget them, and remember only the lessons to be learned from defeat-they are more than from victory.” – William Slim, Defeat into Victory

This year is the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination who endured his own mettle testing bout of failure over the Bay of Pigs invasion which happened on this day in 1961. His reflection, which Greene cites looking at historical event, was: ““You must see any defeat as a way to demonstrate something positive about yourself and your character to other people.”