Careers

Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Peyton Manning agree this is the secret to a winning career

Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand reveal the Air Jordan 2009 to the world at press event at The Event Space on January 8, 2009 in New York City.
Kelly Kline | WireImage | Getty Images
Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand reveal the Air Jordan 2009 to the world at press event at The Event Space on January 8, 2009 in New York City.

The careers of record-breaking sports greats Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Peyton Manning all have one common element: failure.

In a new ad released by Gatorade titled "The Secret to Victory," the star athletes agree that overcoming defeat is the essential ingredient to achieving career success.

Opening up about the low points in their careers, Jordan, Williams, Manning and several other athletes let viewers know that even those who have had seemingly perfect professional lives have experienced failure.

"You want to know the secret to victory?" Jordan asks at the beginning of the ad. "Fail to make the varsity team."

Considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan has often told the story of not making his high school varsity basketball team when he first tried out as a 15-year-old sophomore. He used this rejection as fuel to motivate him to be better and reach his goal of playing in the NBA.

Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants and Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts.
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Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants and Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts.

But even after reaching the highest levels professional basketball has to offer, Jordan still faced defeat and setbacks.

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career," Jordan once said. "I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Peyton Manning, who played 18 seasons in the NFL, shares that his secret to victory was going 3-13 his rookie season, while his brother, Eli, adds that he "led the league in interceptions."

Known as two of the top quarterbacks to play in the NFL, the Manning brothers have both experienced major career losses. It took Peyton Manning a decade to win his first Super Bowl, but he did not let the obstacles and setbacks make him feel like a failure.

"It's not wanting to win that makes you a winner; it's refusing to fail," he once said.

Serena Williams
Getty Images
Serena Williams

Williams, who is known as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, says that her secret to victory is "being on the wrong side of the biggest upset in [her] sport."

In 2015, Williams lost one of her biggest matches at the U.S. Open to Italian player Roberta Vinci. The loss was viewed by some as one of the most stunning upsets in tennis history, but Williams used it as fuel to improve.

"If you know anything about me, I hate to lose. I've always said I hate losing more than I like winning, so that drives me to be the best that I can be," she told the Los Angeles Times.

Williams, Jordan and Manning are joined by other star athletes in the ad, including NFL player J.J. Watt, NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns, MLB player Kyle Schwarber and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who closes by responding to Jordan's question about the secret to victory with one word: "Defeat."

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