If the world would look at each one of us and ask us a question - "Are you a success or failure?" Would that intimidate you? What would be your response?
Today being successful is one of the highest priorities, whether you are a school kid or a steel tycoon. Our lifestyle seems to focus so much on success and achievement. There are innumerable success courses, seminars, workshops, mind training programs etc, that promise to launch us in to the trajectory of success and these things are wonderful!
Now, the issue at hand is - What is our stand on failures? Where do failures fall in our lives? Are failures totally worthless?
People who are failures, according to the world's standard, do not get to have the warm reception that only winners seem to enjoy. Of course that is understandable. But is it only the warm reception that is important here or something more?
At this instant it would do all of us a lot of good to think about this - Somebody said, "No one is a failure; it is just their experience." But many unfortunately seem to be roped into the bandwagon of 'success chasing'.
Psychologists, working with students, say from the time when a child enters school, he/she tends to get impressed with the idea that success is the means to be respected and have a meaningful existence; to say it in simple terms: Success is 'the only way' to have a fulfilled life.
How then would we look at failures with the prevalent notion is that "Only winning is worthwhile and only winners are remembered?" Would it be unwise on our part to say that there is a general misrepresentation of failures in life?
How many times do parents treat their children harshly for having a setback either in academic/sports/personal behavior? Denis Waitely said, "There are no mistakes or failures only lessons."
How many teachers teach children and young minds that failure equally ennobles us as success? How many of them teach that it is not failing but staying stagnant and not endeavoring to advance, that wanes and wastes us?
Everyone agrees that failures teach us humility, keep us from becoming arrogant and teach us perseverance. But when it comes to experiencing them personally, almost all of us cringe and balk. Why?
An Indian writer once wrote, "When failures teach us more lessons than success, shouldn't failures be celebrated more?"
There is a lot of insight in that statement. Yes!!! Failures really are so important in our lives. Failures are the things that make success enjoyable and worthy. Only thirst makes us realize the worth of water. It is the same with hunger and food. If it is true of these natural physical phenomena and things, then success (which is also 'natural' because the drive to succeed is in everyone) too amounts to any worth only if one experiences the presence of failure.
Norman Vincent Peale observes in one of his books that a person who is getting 'C' grades in college need not feel inferior/low for who knows, his real 'A's in life might start coming in when he qualifies and steps out of his college.
So true! The world has many such success stories; stories of people who went on to make millions after the age when most of the people would retire; stories of people who invented when they were quite old. History is emblazoned with instances where a person, condemned as a failure, became unstoppable and rose to supremacy, before the eyes of the very same people who stamped and sealed him as failure.
What should make us think that we are... done for... we are doomed... we are failures? Hence, we ought to stop trying to shun away failures or keep ourselves oblivious of our failures. People say that the more you loathe failures the more they irk you.
Have you ever looked at a stone on top of a mountain? Does it have failures? No! Is it alive? A big no! Only a living being can have failures. Failures are a signs of life. Failures are absolutely essential for each one of us.
So the best way to tackle failures is to adorn our lips with a wonderful smile and tell ourselves, "Hello! Be glad you have failures in life. If there were no failures, there would be no lessons and no real achievement can ever come without lessons."
The most important thing that each of us has to do is to be 'kind to ourselves' when we fail, instead of 'judging ourselves' and wallowing in self-pity; let us rethink our philosophy of success.
Of course failure has its own pain and no one can deny that. But it is like the pain that comes out of exercise that makes one fit. It is worth repeating what someone said - Anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Hence, instead of thinking failures are final, let us rejoice that we have another lesson to learn.
Who on earth would be ungrateful to a person for a favor done? Failures do the same to us. They help us in so many ways. Why not be grateful for our failures? Now I am not being so superficial to say that we need not feel pain. It is just that we need to accept pain as willingly as we would when we receive help from someone.
What would be our answer if someone asked us this question:
"Have you celebrated your recent failure?"
This might seem an insane question to many but truly there is lot in it for us to meditate. Basically we have to learn to gladly accept, not gruntingly call in, failures if they make their presence at our doorstep.
Now this doesn't mean that we go around making failure a thing of pride but, learn to keep failures in proper perspective so that they serve us instead of cut us. If we make friends with failures, be it personal or beyond, we truly don't have any enemies. It also doesn't mean we go jumping around because we failed. We need to handle them with poise and thankfulness because we learn from them too.
The Bible records instances where people who experienced failures finally ended as successes because they calmly accepted their failures and lived by what they said vis-a-vis 'We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.'
If only we will recognize the importance of failures in our lives, we would not be so against them. We would even be thankful sometimes that they came our way. Now think about this - "True success rests not in the basking while succeeding, but in the sereneness of a man to throw a party after hitting rock bottom". Hence let us celebrate our failures and calibrate our lives to success!
Copyright © 2011 Sam Vijay Kumar
About the Author
I am a biotechnologist from India, working in the field of bio-medical research, with interest in theology, positive thinking, philosophy, creative writing and in living a purposeful life, thereby contributing to fellow humans. My personal desire and struggle is to be keen to (and) learn anything that will uplift human life and place us in a better position at handling the challenges that life throws at us. To discuss and write about issues of life, thoughts and mind are some of my passions.
I have received a lot from this world through many thinkers and their writings. and hence I want to contribute something to this world by presenting my thoughts to the world as well in these areas. 'Positive people' are the ones that I am most comfortable interacting with. I am sure you who are reading this are a positive person and am glad to have connected with you.