Pause: But Don’t Stop at Failure

by Pramod Chandrashaker

One of the most genuine nuggets of advice I received in my childhood was from a cousin who told me that I could learn much more from losing than from winning. I stared at her with disbelief. I had just won a series of awards and was basking in the light of these victories. People were praising me to the skies. And she talked about the benefits of failure. It was not only irrelevant but quite confusing to me.

Several years later, after weathering several storms in life, I cannot agree more – failure teaches valuable life lessons that success can never access. I completely subscribe to the dictum, ‘Failure is a stepping stone to success’.

A tender, young, highly ambitious 11 year old Lionel Messi received the shattering news that he had a growth hormone deficiency. His fragile hope rested in treatment that would cost much more than his poor father could afford. For two years Messi relentlessly continued to play football despite the disease and despite being rejected as the shortest and weakest and dumped from his team, till the sporting director of FC Barcelona noticed his talent and decided to sponsor his medical treatment. Failure brought out the fighting spirit in him.

Much before he became a household name Steven Spielberg spent many months roaming the Hollywood streets convincing producers that he could direct films. Through every rejection, his resolve just got stronger. He put up a sign outside his shed calling himself a director when he had not yet directed a single film.

There are countless stories of sweet success emerging from the bedrock of failure. It’s almost like a predictable pattern – people at the top of their fields made it through daunting times of loss and failure and came up victorious. We should all learn to fail graciously, and take the treasures of wisdom from such failures. We should look forward eagerly to our next trouble. Without tough times our education is inadequate.

“...there is such a slim difference between losing and winning... It is a tragedy when people traverse all the way and give up when they are just a few steps way from victory.

No human being is invincible. The greatest sportsmen go through lean patches but their greatness lies in bouncing back each time they fall. There is never a guarantee of an easy life forever. There are valleys beside every mountain and stormy weather after perfect days. If we have not learned to tackle the storm, we can never hope to sail forward.

If I make a list right now of all the problems and challenges I am juggling with, I can gasp and feel overwhelmed, or I can look intently and notice the lurking opportunity behind every problem. My body language can change and I can thank God for these diamonds of opportunities. I have now realised that there is such a slim difference between losing and winning. Those who fail are sometimes very close to winning, but the situation needs just a little tweaking here and there. It is a tragedy when people traverse all the way and give up when they are just a few steps way from victory.

Why not make your own list? Treat it like an intriguing puzzle to trace the possibilities behind each predicament. Embrace the failures in your life, especially the learning potential of every loss. I bet one day you will look back with gratitude and say to yourself, “Today is so beautiful because yesterday was so tough and terrible”
[The writer is a Leadership Trainer and Coach based in Hyderabad, India. He can be reached at pramodchandrashaker@hotmail.com]

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