If it goes on this way, you’ll amount to nothing.
Your hobby is not going to tide you through financial difficulties.
Our God doesn’t approve of your incompetence.
How can you fail?!
Sharma ji ke bete ko dekho!
Most of us have heard these or something of the likes at some point in our life, I’ve written the above in increasing order of senselessness. Failure is actually the “F” word parents detest. You heard me, it’s not the other one. Failing is an offence so large, it could take you and your entire family’s reputation with it.
We’ve been brought up with the notion that failing is not a socially acceptable behaviour, and this notion was pushed down our throats through our formative years, whether it was getting rewarded for the “right” answer and reprimanded for anything but that. Failure became a sort of nemesis in the life of most children around the world and especially the Indian subcontinent, where everything academic and otherwise are held in high regard. Future, the “F” word parents are fond of, is built by never making a wrong move, we were told.
Let us examine this closely, for we believe that failure needs to be addressed so that it never stalls any human being to achieve what it is they wish to.
Here are some pointers to make a case for failure (assuming I’m a good enough counsel that “Failure” would hire me):
You’ve failed plenty, you just don’t know: The thousands of times you miserably failed at standing on your two feet when you were younger, the hundreds of time you fell of the bicycle while learning how to ride, the umpteen times you mispronounced the alphabet. We’re not alien to failing, we just happened to get in line with what society thought was correct for us. So going back to the basics and bringing out that childish confidence could help us get to newer heights. If we were truly afraid of failing, we wouldn’t be walking, talking or cycling. Enough said.
First time finishers: How many times have we really got something perfectly correct in the first time? I would like to assume very few, if not never. It’s the first attempt that psychologists say trouble us, the initial step into the unknown that we fear. Take that first new step today, pick up that instrument, book or sporting gear that has been a show piece until now and change your perception of failure.
Society defines failure, not success: The people around you who so despise failing at something are the same bunch of people who’ve never tried too many new things. The ones who have, will only have encouraging words for you. Society has its pre-set notions of failure yet success is undefined; success is more self-generated and self-sufficient. Find your unique definition of success, be it happiness, be it impact, be it money, whatever else could be there. Don’t let anyone else define success for you.
We are inspired by sportspeople, entrepreneurs, inventors and many others, all of whom have one thing to say – NEVER GIVE UP. We’re quick to idolise and even quicker to criticise yet, rather slow to imbibe, grasp what our idols have to teach us. One thing is clear though, you must falter before you make your mark.
You might not know about Ben Horowitz, but he is the epitome of failure. Before he built one of the fastest growing venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley’s history, he was a CEO on the perpetual brink of disaster. A lot of CEOs have saved companies from bankruptcy, but saving the same company twice, with the same set of employees and then selling it for billion dollar plus, is not an everyday job! When fundraising proved impossible, Horowitz pursued a controversial initial public offering that BusinessWeek called “the IPO from hell.” You can read more about him via his blog and his book which serves as the Bible for all entrepreneurs.
If he can fail, so can you. If he can pick himself up and try again, so can you.
Lastly, we’re not here to preach, we’re here to help you never get disheartened if “F” ever happens to you, failure that is. That said, the other “F” will fall into place, future that is.