Do you find yourself giving up easily when confronted with failure? Read on to find out how the road to success is inevitably littered with milestones which cannot always be achieved in the first attempt. We often hear the adage ‘failures are the stepping stones to success.’ While this is true, if we examine all the worthwhile successes in the history of mankind closely, we will see that failures are actually the essential ingredients for success.
The Importance of Failure in Pushing the Limits
Nowhere is this truer than in the field of scientific enquiry and accomplishment. When some renowned American scientists were asked by a group of visiting students if, during the course of their practice of science, they had ever failed, many of them replied,
“oh, millions of times! If you are not failing enough, maybe you are not pushing the limits in the first place.”
Ditto for the champions of sport that we all so admire. Behind every “effortless” punch down the covers off the back foot that has now become one of the signature strokes of Sachin Tendulkar lies hundreds of failed attempts to execute the shot in the practice nets. The same holds true for Federer and Nadal’s signature shots on the tennis court or Nadia’s perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics.
If we examine the process of success and failure more closely in business, we will find that all high powered executives and business leaders have often taken many wrong turns before hitting upon the innovation jackpot. The IBM supercomputer is an apt example of this since it could out-maneuver and defeat the reigning world chess champion in a game of chess after repeated trials in laboratories.
Failure as a Great Teacher
Similarly, in human relationships too, we often make a number of false starts or other mistakes that damage our relationships before we learn the winning formula of having positive relationships in life with the people who matter to us.
However, not everyone has what it takes to learn from failure. The ability to learn from experiences, especially failures, is indeed, one of the finest qualities that anyone could possess since this quality keeps one on the path of learning throughout life.
People who can question their beliefs and fixed value systems when they fail have the potential to acquire this quality. A basic level of humility and intelligence is needed to accept that all human beings need to practice and persevere in order to become perfect in any activity we undertake. It is only to be expected that we will fail many times before we will succeed .We must have the perseverance and doggedness to keep at a worthwhile pursuit despite repeated failures in order to succeed.
While a supportive social and family environment does help, it is ultimately the individual who needs to build the inner reserves of mental strength and perseverance in order to learn from failure and eventually succeed.
A Real Story
Ramit and Vikas were the best of friends and were both meritorious students in school. Ramit had a play-it-safe approach to his life and career while Vikas often liked to test the boundaries of his efforts, dreams and potentials.
Both completed their MBAs from premier business schools in town and while Ramit settled into the predictable routine of a ‘Nine to Five’ job, Vikas after five years of learning the corporate ropes on the job, transformed into an entrepreneur.
His first few ventures did not bear fruit but on his fifth attempt, he founded a very successful job portal thanks to the solid backing of his business partners and a conglomerate of venture capitalists. The company finally went public after another five years, making Vikas one of the legends of modern corporate India and his success story – as well as the failures that preceded it – is now the stuff of case studies at the very business school where he and Ramit had once studied.
Let us always remember that anything worth doing and any result worth pursuing with energy, passion and perseverance will inevitably bring many failures before success. The more we fail, the surer we can become that we are heading closer to success.
The more Edison would fail in his attempt to light up the filament of his electric bulb or the more Einstein would discard a certain approach to the theory of relativity in his diaries, the closer they got to success -success that would alter the course of human history and push the frontiers of human knowledge forward by several orders of magnitude.