It's said that success breeds success but failure is a far more potent ingredient, which I suspect David Moyes will find out to his immense relief in a couple of years or so. Humiliation, disappointment and catastrophic loss - that's what makes people successful. That's why there's so much expectation in the new England cricket supremo, a man once written-off for his very public ruination.
Peter Moores is widely recognised as one of the finest English coaches of his generation and he's just been reappointed to turn our chastened national team into winners again. When he first took on the mantle he was sacked after a partly self-inflicted falling-out with his irascible captain, Kevin Pietersen. Moores was too 'in your face', too enthusiastic and controlling, unable to soothe egos and motivate those more talented than he was. He was, in short, out of his depth.
He failed, went to lick his wounds and obviously tweaked his approach and personality. His subsequent coaching successes are proof of that. Perhaps a leopard can change his spots after all.
That transformation is mirrored elsewhere in sport. Three football coaches vying for the top managerial prize are all former failures - Brendan Rogers, Tony Pulis and Steve Bruce. They may be tasting success now but they're drawing on deeply-held experiences of failure. Sometimes to know what's right you have to first figure out what's wrong.
The trouble is we live in a society in which second chances are rarely offered - yet when they are it is very often the best thing that has ever happened. William Hague, for instance, was widely regarded as a terrible failure as a Tory leader. Today, he's one of the most sensible in Cabinet, a genuine (and sadly rare) British statesman.
Richard Branson is derided for his failures but there's no doubt that, without them, his successes wouldn't have been nearly so spectacular. I once worked for a senior media figure who, after a succession of senior roles, had never experienced failure. Yet it was only after they did that they truly began to flower - it was as if they understood who they were and what far grander goals they were now capable of achieving.
'There's no success like failure,' sang Bob Dylan in Love Minus Zero, a sentiment wisely echoed by Prince Andrew recently (and he should know!) when he launched a scheme to boost start-up businesses in Britain. He said: 'Failure is not something to be afraid of because so much of life is understanding about failure and the lessons to be learnt from failure. There must be a learning process to success and part of that must be being challenged so that the logical outcome will be failure, so that you can learn from that failure.'
Despite his rare fortune, the Prince knows well of what he speaks. Marriage, business ventures, public persona, tacky architectural design - the taste of failure must be a bitter one for someone so high-profile.
So why do the rest of us fear failure? Why do we only measure ourselves by (sometimes shallow) success rather than lessons learned? The Prince thinks the important word is failure, I think it's fear.
A former colleague recently told me it must be 'scary' trying to reinvent yourself by suddenly changing career. It's taken me a year to figure out that the stability which he so craves is what induces fear, not upheaval. Familiarity dulls the senses, unpredictability fires the synapses. Sitting still makes us scared to leap, taking the leap makes us question why we spent all that time sitting still.
So, no I told him, it isn't scary. It's energising. You need to put yourself in a position where failure is an option because that's what will instil strength, confidence and ability.
Embrace fear and it will inspire; avoid it and it will stymie.
More than that - embrace failure. The taste of it makes our palate for life far more mature. It is the essential ingredient for success. Although, just for good measure, I have my fingers crossed too, just like Moyes and Moores.Suggest a correction