Fail your way to success.

Get'n Upphoto © 2008 Zaskoda | more info (via: Wylio)

Are you uncomfortable with failure? Do you have dreams that you don’t go after because you are afraid to fail? Do you get disheartened after a few failed attempts and stop trying? Do you feel no matter how hard you try, you just don’t get it?

If the prospect of facing failure mortifies you, read below.

Sustained success always goes hand in hand with a lot of failure. Most success stories are stories of great failure as well.

  • Thomas Elva Edison failed more than a thousand times before he created the light bulb. He was also partially deaf. As a kid, he was told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything. At age 67, he lost his multi-million dollar factory to fire. He had very little insurance on it. Three weeks later, he invented the phonograph!
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas”. He was hired by a church to draw some cartoons. The shed he was given to work, was infested with mice. He got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse there.
  • The great philosophical classic, ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ was rejected by over a 100 publishers. More than 10 years before this book was released, the writer, Robert M. Pirsig, suffered a nervous break down. He was diagnosed with clinical depression and paranoid schizophrenia. He spent 2 years in and out of psychiatric hospitals and was treated with shock therapy on numerous occasions.
  • The great Indian actor, Amitabh Bachchan went through many years of struggle in the film industry. He was rejected by many directors/producers because he was considered too tall, too dark and too lean to be a leading actor. Ironically, known now for his rich voice, he was rejected by All India Radio for a bad voice! He even played the role of a mute in one of his early films, Reshma Aur Shera. It was not until his 13th(did some one say it is unlucky :)) film, Zanjeer, that he tasted success. He was awarded this role only because all other leading stars of the time had rejected it.

Failure is not the antithesis of success, it is an integral part of it. You will have to learn to fail if you care to succeed. As I have said before in some posts, failure, as most people understand it, does not exist at all. It is NOT a humiliating, terrifying or sad experience. What you may know as failures are, in fact,  ‘learning experiences’ on your path to success. These experiences help you grow and improve in life. In fact, when you look back at your experiences after a while, you realize that, more often than not, these experiences turn out to be more important than the actual goal.

Winners are not people who never lose, in fact most winners loose more often than the losers. Winners are the losers who didn’t give up. These are people who accept failure for what it is, a learning experience.They keep trying and failing until they understand how to do it right. For them, failures truly are stepping stones to success.

When you are growing up, its normal to feel bad when you try hard for something and don’t get it. What matters though is whether you can learn to take it in your stride, whether you can get up and look failure in the eye, smile at it and try again, try until failure itself fails and lets you have your way. If you progress in life with this winning attitude, you come to treat failure as a trustworthy friend. It may taunt you, mock you, but it will always show you the right direction. You just need to keep your hurt pride out of the way.

A common mistake people make is to compare themselves to others. Every life is different. You cannot have the life of your friend or your father or your role model. You will have your own share of opportunities in life that will show up at their own time. If you have the right attitude, you will be able to make the most of them when they visit you.

Here are a few thing failure teaches you

1. Teaches you humility. Failure shows you, you are not perfect but you can improve if you learn to listen to its lessons. It teaches you to take yourself and the world lightly. It teaches you to laugh at yourself.

2. Failure strengthens your spirit. As you learn to fail more and more, you get a thick skin. Setbacks don’t deter you.  Success becomes a matter of practice and patience.

3. It clears your intention. Do you really want what you want? Do you still want the same thing after repeated failures, or do you realize you have been digging for false gold? Failure will answer all these questions for you.

4. Gives you a free and valuable lesson every time. A stern but nice teacher, failure gives you lessons in a way you will never forget for the rest of your life.

Here is something interesting to try. Strive for failure once in a while, play to lose. When I had to appear for job interviews, I just would go ahead and appear at a few, expecting fully to fail. This was not out of carelessness. I did it to familiarize myself with the questions asked and to release the fear of facing an interviewer. It worked like a charm!

Here’s wishing you a life of many failures.

suffering a nervous breakdown, Pirsig spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals between 1961 to 1963. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression as a result of an evaluation conducted by psychoanalysts, and was treated with shock therapy on numerous occasions.


  • Kaveri Biradar
    October 25, 2010 - 6:38 pm | Permalink

    i must say..the example you illustrated are really good and perfect for this blog.

    Well done!

    • Rahul
      October 26, 2010 - 4:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks Kaveri..!
      I am glad you liked it.

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