Cory S. Anderson, executive vice president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation encouraged University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff students, faculty and staff to learn from failure during his address at the Chancellor’s Fall Convocation. He prefaced his speech with a brief history on Winthrop Rockefeller himself. Considered the ‘black sheep’ of his family, Rockefeller chose to leave New York and enlist in the military, where he ultimately met someone that convinced him to visit Arkansas. That visit enamored Rockefeller, prompting him to purchase Petit Jean Mountain.
“One of the richest men of that time that had houses all around the world, [Rockefeller] decided to make his home here in Arkansas,” Anderson said.
Continuing the brief history lesson with Rockefeller’s decision to take a job as the first commissioner of economic development, Anderson said it was Rockefeller’s mission to end poverty in Arkansas – unfortunately, that mission failed. According to Anderson, the lesson about Rockefeller’s failure to complete his mission was that he did it successfully because he never stopped trying to accomplish it.
“For every success that we see, there is at least one thing that didn’t go as planned,” Anderson said. “Success is impossible without failure.”
Reflecting on the eight years of work it took to launch the Forward Arkansas initiative at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Anderson said it took four years for his boss to convince him that failure was ok and another four years for him to figure out why. He outlined his life lesson with the acronym, D.I.V.E, saying that everyone needs to DIVE into failure.
The first letter in the acronym stands for desire. Anderson said that you should desire to succeed, but be prepared to learn from failure if things don’t work out immediately. The second letter stands for inevitable, meaning that failure is inevitable. According to Anderson, the key is to keep pushing so you can get better. Anderson continued with his acronym to help the audience understand that fear is also valuable. He stated that the return on investment that comes as a result of learning from failure is valuable to your development as a person.
“Every time you fail, you learn something,” Anderson said.
The final letter in D.I.V.E stood for exciting. He stated that we often tend to not want to rock the boat in our lives and play it safe. Anderson challenged the crowd to take risks.
“If you’re about realizing your vision, despite your failures, you’re going to be subject to commentary and criticism that brings a new level of excitement to your life,” Anderson said.
Anderson summed up his speech admonishing students to continue working toward their goals, using failure as fuel instead because strong leaders are needed for the evolving world we live in.
“I’m rooting for you to fail your way to a greater impact on Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, the State of Arkansas, this county, and the world,” Anderson said. “What I see here before me today are the raw materials that can make that happen.”