NAT 191031 SIBF STEVE HARVEY-13-1572521302241
Steve Harvey, American comedian, interacts with the students from different schools across the Emirates at Sharjah International Book Fair 2019. 31st October 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Sharjah: Steve Harvey, the American TV host and motivational speaker, who is famous for naming the wrong winner in the 2015 Miss Universe beauty pageant, told an audience at Sharjah International Book Fair on Thursday ‘that you have to fail to succeed’.

“Life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent of what you do about it,” the 62-year-old told an audience of mostly school students, in an interactive session at Expo Centre Sharjah. “You are bound to fail many times, but you have to fail to be successful.”

“In my 30 years as a stand-up comedian I made several mistakes, wrote several jokes that weren’t funny, but the world will only write about successes,” he added.

“The world knows about the 140 successful shots of Michael Jordan but not about the 800 missed attempts, because that is how the world is.

“You have got to know how to learn from each failure.”

Touching on his early life as a boxer, autoworker, carpet cleaner and mailman, he went on to discuss his three years living homeless.

“I have seen so many failures, being poor, homeless, being expelled from school, losing my parents, my brother, but I have gotten used to always getting back up.

“In school I had a terrible stuttering problem, I failed school and was expelled, I had to live in a car for three years, I made a lot of mistakes. I was black, poor, and school drop-out but I had to be focused on achieving my dream. My belief in God kept me going through the darkest moments of my life. Hollywood is an ugly and dangerous place. If you are not a person of faith you cannot survive. One has to make peace with the fact that life is never going to be all happy. Your dreams have to be bigger than all your problems. When you have God on your side, you have everything,” said the father of seven.

Of the now famous Miss Universe incident, Harvey added, “Many a times I asked God to make me a global and famous brand. Then in 2015, despite the best rehearsals and following the teleprompter, I declared Ms Colombia the winner of the pageant when it was actually Ms Phillipines. I got a lot of flak for that, I couldn’t step out of my house and people told me my career was over. However, in those 48 hours I was googled four billion times. So although I did not appreciate God’s way of making me a Global brand, he actually made me one in 48 hours.”

“I dreamed of being a television star. People told me you can be a construction worker like my brother, or a coal miner like my dad, but I knew what I wanted to be. It was an important facet of my life and I aspired to be something more than anyone in my family had ever been. You cannot survive in this world without wanting something more for yourself. It is this feeling that propels you to education that helps you translate your vision and dreams.”

“Once you know your dream, there are a lot of challenges one faces on way to fulfilling it. Being disciplined is a big part of staying focused but more important than that is to have faith (in God). You have got to hold on to your faith. It is really hard to be successful.”