What's the voodoo that makes one professional failure able to bounce back and exceed anyone's expectations and prevents another from regaining control of a career?
Optimism. That's what those who analyze comebacks might say, at least based on the upward, downward, and sustained upward trajectories of Tony Curtis. He died today, at age 85, after a career in lightweight and serious acting and painting. His canvasses often sold for $20,000 each.
Like too many lawyers he had his run-ins with alcohol and drugs. Then he got it that those substances, as Ken Ritter reports in HUFFINGTON POST, made him "unavailable" for career challenges. That slide into darkness was triggered by the kind of shifts many lawyers are experiencing: a niche dries up. Beginning to age, Curtis could not get those parts as a heart throb. Also his soul yearned for his talent to be taken seriously. So, he changed. He had the optimism to believe that all that painful effort could lead to a positive outcome.
Here is the address I delivered at the New York State Bar Association on career transition, which has been published in VITAL SPEECHES OF THE DAY Download Rainmaking.