Can you learn to be successful by studying successful people? Many people would say yes. Yet some recent research by Jerker Denrell shows that studying success is only half of the equation. Failure must also be studied, even though it is typically minimized and swept under the rug.
Denrell points out how some characteristics, such as risk-taking, may be present in both those who are successful and those who are not. A risky move that turns out to be successful is regarded as "visionary", while a risk that doesn’t pay off is considered "reckless".
The media often focuses on people’s success while barely acknowledging their failures along the way. For example, Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, failed a number of times before he hit it big with MicroSolutions. In one of his blog entries, he recounts his many mistakes and setbacks, such as trying to sell powdered milk and getting fired from a software company. He points out that "no one really asks me" about these failures. All they want to hear about is how he made millions (and how they can too).