Jennifer Johnson | May Fortune and Failure Not Deter Me

There is something powerful about writing down our dreams in the form of a personal creed or declaration. Thank you to Jennifer Johnson, the founder and president of Coraticum Asset Management (bio below), for sharing hers with us. 

May Fortune and Failure Not Deter Me

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And meet those two impostors just the same..
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a

[Woman my daughter]!
-Rudyard Kipling

These words regarding triumph and disaster initially seemed to me to be glib or even poor advice.  Why should we not celebrate successes and mourn our losses?

Is it not human to do so?

But there is danger in adulation.  Fame incessantly calls for a pause to acknowledge and to enjoy the appreciating crowds, creating friction in moving toward greater achievement.  With the brilliance of artificial lights in one's eyes and the deafening applause in one's ears, it is difficult to see and think clearly, making it impossible to see what is in the shadows or to hear what is whispered.


Source:  istockphoto

Fame faced Florence Nightingale when she returned to an adoring public after the horrors of the Crimean War.  Having been so dogmatically opposed by family, public opinion and bureaucracy, and permanently weakened from the Crimean fever herself, Ms. Nightingale could have justifiably taken a break.  She had saved lives and dramatically altered the public perception of nursing.  (At that time, nurses were either Catholic nuns — in Protestant England — or immoral women tainted by sleeping on the same hospital floors as the patients.)



However, Ms. Nightingale's greatest accomplishment came after she had achieved notoriety, when she took on the greatest bureaucracy of her day, the British War Department, thereby not only making permanent her work for nursing, but also institutionalizing more human treatment of the foot soldier.


Disaster is equally deceptive.  A horrifying disaster can color one's perception so completely as to destroy all self-initiative and self-esteem. If instead disaster is viewed as a temporary period of learning, then hope is preserved and exellence continues in its incubation.


Thomas Edison can be viewed as one who treated successes as impostors since no invention stopped him from accumulating 1,000 patents in his name.  Perhaps more impressive is how he dealt with disaster.  Arguably his “sucesses” are the fruit of how he treated failures as experiments or opportunities.  His invention of the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb came after trying over 1,600 different materials for the filament.



At 67 years old, a fire wiped out many of his profitable enterprises.  Edison reportedly said, “We'll build up bigger and better than ever.  Why should I be downhearted?”  Not many people immediately look upon a pile of ash as an opportunity for something bigger and better.  A trusted assistant once wrote “Edison is indefatigable.  No kind of failure, however disastrous affects him.”

It is so easy to mistake my accomplishments or errors as permanent and associate them with my intrinsic value.

I don't want it to be this way.

I therefore hereby commit my energies, concentration, and resources to view all my seeming successes and failures as stepping stones of learning and opportunity. 

Have you ever composed a personal creed, written down your dreams?  

What important contributions might you have not made had you stopped after an early success?

I've written about the limelight in The Galadriel Test, but never about failure.  I'm intrigued by Jennifer's discussion; our failures can not only debilitate us, but also our posterity.  Has this ever happened to you?

Do you have a personal creed and/or dream that you would be willing to share?


Jennifer Johnson, CFA, is the founder and president of Coraticum Asset Management.  She is also the fund manager, directing and executing all investment strategies.  Ms. Johnson graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from Brigham Young Univeristy and later returned to receive an MBA degree from the Marriott School of Management.  From 2001 through 2006, Ms. Johnson worked as an equity portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, the investment affiliate of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Her commitment to lifelong learning includes the completion of the CFA program (2006) and two sequential language immersion programs at the Spanish Language School of Middlebury College in Vermont.

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