By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: Failure Is An Option: Rising Above Where We Are and Moving Us to What We Can Be

October 27, 2021
Column: CEO Learnings

I received a copy of Rich Karlgaard’s Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement to review just before it was a published. This book really resonated with me since I have been working with people in transition since 2001 through a parish based ministry. Over 6,000 executives, managers and professionals have passed through our doors.

I immediately reached out to Rich to ask him if he would serve as a guest mentor on my radio show, THE MENTORS RADIO. He responded in the affirmative within ten minutes!

The show airs worldwide Saturdays simultaneously on the Salem Radio Network and iHeart Radio. it is then reformatted for podcast. You can find the show at

We discuss much of what is in the book on the show. It is worth a listen.

“Late Bloomers” touches on several important topics – the discouragement we feel when we compare ourselves to others who appear to “have it made,” the pressure on young adults to overachieve, the value of gaining broad experience which can take us to becoming what we are to become, and the realities of life as most of us are not success stories “out of the gate” but become success stories as “late bloomers.”

A late bloomer is a person who fulfills their potential later than expected; they often have talents that are not visible to others initially. They are not attempting to satisfy, with gritted teeth, the expectations of their parents or society which is a false path, one that leads to burnout and brittleness, or even to depression and illness.

Karlgaard’s book reminded me of what I learned at my 20th high school reunion. Many who garnered most of the attention, typically the athletes and the most attractive girls, no longer had the spotlight. Many who were unknown to most in high school who had matured into being the most attractive by virtue of what they did, what they had become and how they took care of themselves. Those that had been the “stars” were now in the shadows. And those who were once in the shadows were now the “stars.”

We are not static. Life is not static. Early achievement does not translate to long-term success in life.

History is replete with many successful late bloomers—Grandma Moses who took a brush at age 75, Julia Child who learned to cook at age 40, Colonel Sanders who became a household name as he entered his 60s, Ray Kroc who saw a future in fast food, and even Tom Brady who was a 6th round NFL draft pick.

Karlgaard’s insights on this phenomenon include:

  • Early achievers find later in life that not everything can go right. They take this hard because they have had little practice managing struggle.
  • Late bloomers learn resilience. Early disappointments force concessions and they reshape expectations. Emotional elasticity is a learned skill. Flexibility provides a personal foundation of strength and a sense of safety in a chaotic world. The only way to get this quality is to fail and try again.
  • Late bloomers possess talents that can only be acquired through time and experience – they tend to be more curious, compassionate, resilient and wise than younger people of equal talent.

Late Bloomers is a must read for anyone over 30, whether they are in-transition or not. Most of the late bloomers Karlgaard highlighted did not bloom belatedly by copying the habits, skills, and career paths of early bloomers. Trying to do so was almost a recipe for failure and heartbreak. Late bloomers are those who find their supreme destiny on their own schedule, in their own way.
Karlgaard’s book is a book of hope. He shares the stories and paths of late bloomers…and how they overcame cultural and self-confidence challenges to reach their destiny.

We all have a date with destiny.  Late Bloomers provides us with a template and a look at a reality that is bound to provoke us into action and help us rise above what of where we are and move us to what we can be. And failure is a good option along the way.


View Articles Thomas M. Loarie is a popular host of The Mentors Radio Show, the founder and CEO of BryoLogyx Inc. (, and a seasoned corporate... MORE »

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