Success/failure begin to occur the very minute you begin to do what you really want to do in life. If you do not know what you want to do, find out what the world needs and work to fulfill that need. Overcome your personal problems, embrace failure, but take further action now. Stop waiting for miracles to happen. Make miracles happen now. There are only so many tomorrows.
Edison overcame his hearing impairment while inventing light bulb, motion picture camera, stock ticker, X-ray machine, and many others. By the time of his death in 1931, Edison held over 1000 patents – all because he embraced failure. Errors, and failure are necessary on the path of discovery. Each time you fail, you eliminate another way that will not work.
As a matter of fact, you will probably hit your mark before you are able to eliminate all the ways. Consider negative results just a valuable as the positive results. You will find the thing that does the job best by finding the ones that don’t. If you are a genius, you will embrace failure because genius is 1% inspiration (success), 99% perspiration (failures).
In my view, failure is the best teacher. Virtually nothing comes out right the first time and you can learn everything from it. Failures, especially repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. Every failure is a temporary roadblock that points you in a new direction. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street. Failure is a part of success and it will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it. On the other hand, success, without failure, is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can not lose. No pain usually means no gain.
In life, unless we take risk, it is no life. We must dare to take a risk. Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. The fact is that failure is a natural consequence of human activity and the only way to avoid it is to do absolutely nothing.
Our society places great importance on success. Success stories are told and retold while failure is down-graded. It is hardly any wonder, then, that people begin to view instances of failure as negative statements about the person who has failed. Because it is unpleasant to experience failure, we frequently strive to minimize its occurrence. Yet failure is essential to our way of life and our society must accept failure as a component of growth.
We may be disappointed if we fail, but we are doomed if we do not even try. Failure may occur every moment of every day because humans are putting efforts in whatever they do. As long as humans strive to achieve, they will frequently not reach their goals and experience failure. Such failures are natural occurrences. The fact is that a life spent making mistakes is more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
By its very nature, failure happens concurrently with success as we often fulfill some goals while failing to fulfill others. If we live, we will fail often. It is not a personality trait. It is an inherent aspect of life. Labeling individuals failure merely because they fail is both illogical and potentially destructive. Viewing ourselves as failures because we fall short of desired goals is illogical because it unjustly transforms an external and normal occurrence into a personality trait.
Failure is good if we admit mistakes openly and seek to learn from them. We should not sweep failures under the rug in an effort to prove they were not the disasters they seemed. Thomas Edison not only discussed his mistakes, he also credited them for his eventual success.
Failure is normal in almost every aspect of life. Difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter. We must deal with failure honestly. Since living necessitates failing, failure should not be dreaded but accepted as life itself is accepted. When we accept failure, our tolerance is increased. Children learn to walk only after repeated falls. We accept their falling knowing that it is the only way to learn.
The other advantage of accepting failure is that the person is able to savor the activity of living even when the outcomes are not favorable. No doubt that to try and fail is a disappointment, but to fail to try is a disaster in the making. It is a myth that our talents make us a success. It is when we do wrong and how we correct it that ensures our long-lasting success.
Abraham Lincoln was not a financial success as a young lawyer in Illinois. At one point, in 1837, he was sufficiently in debt and had to depend on friends for room and board. He continued to experience failure as a Congressman from 1847- 1849. He was disappointed with his inability to accomplish anything. The people of his district were even more disappointed, especially with his stand against the Mexican War. At the end of his term, Lincoln sadly renounced politics and returned to Springfield to practice law. When he returned to politics in 1858, he again met with failure, losing to Douglas in the Senate race. That failure, however, gave Lincoln increased national recognition and marked the beginning of his eventual rise to the Presidency. On 2.12.2009, Americans celebrated his 200th birthday.
Moral of the story is that we should think of failure as our friend. Failure provides the fertilizer for success. Making mistakes is a part of life. Healthy growth cannot occur without a good dose of failure. Therefore, we should never down-grade failure because that is where we will find success. I only wish that our children be taught about “failure” in their class rooms. If nothing else, it will reduce suicide rates among children who fail in life frequently. In my personal view, it is the job of all parents to teach “persistence” while letting their children fail repeatedly.
About Dr. Rajender K. Arora, MD, FACG, ABIHM
Dr. Arora works in St. Barnabas Medical Center, in Maplewood, New Jersey. In addition to his rich medical practice Dr. Arora loves philosophy and writes articles in which he gives useful and inspirational advice to parents and children. This article, sent to us by his friend Yakov Danilenko (a well known fencing coach and founder of Medeo Fencing Club), resonated well with our own beliefs that failure is a necessary part of any journey and we are happy to publish it with Dr. Arora’s permission.