Significance of Failure
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
By Mahi Sastry
An equation depends on the catalyst you use. But, what makes an equation legitimate?
So far in my journey, I have grown in an atmosphere that prepares us for ‘successes’. However, what has struck me now is that there is a great flaw in the equation; or rather in scientific terms, there still remains a variable which has gone unsolved and has great influence over the rest of the equation.
"Our society prepares us to handle successes and not failures"
This variable I’m talking about is failure. I realize that I had received education on various tools to be
amassed for the gain of mastery, and yet I did not receive knowledge on this very crucial tool. I admit that I have encountered failure before. But so conditioned my mind had become to a certain way of thought, that I pushed it away.
The first question that comes to my mind is why am I so averse to failure?
I realize it’s a hard question because the answer that "it’s human nature to dislike the unfavorable" doesn’t seem to serve the purpose of the question at hand. Why doesn’t it serve the purpose? Because the answer lies in the unfavorable and whoever has realized their own equation for success has found their answers in them.
The reason for aversion is simple: ego is first to take the fall and then things don’t get pretty. Now the
question follows, where does this ego come from? The answer to this lies in the first part of our
discussion– our society prepares us to handle successes and not failures.
Now, what are the answers that failure has?
Failure is like a gruelling training regime responsible for developing a keen eye for detail (#1). Looking for details in the tiniest of corners, not only in the things you want to master, but also in the inner workings of your mind is extremely important. For this helps you know various nuances that aren't visible to the naked eye. The beauty of this, I’m now slowly beginning to appreciate...like a tightly closed bud, you reveal the secrets by peeling it layer by layer.
Truth (#2). It’s a bitter pill to swallow and failure holds it up like a mirror. These two characteristics of failure– a keen eye for detail and truth–are what it makes it so undesirable, plainly because they’re uncomfortable.
A question that may arise– what makes these two aspects so powerful?
The level of proficiency lies in the depth you’ve gone to, it lies in how well you know what you want to know inside out. Now how are we supposed to go deep, if we’re afraid to dive, if we’re unaware of the power hidden deep inside?
Failure is a lesson brimming with potential but it’s uncomfortable to endure. What can be done to make the uncomfortable something of ease? Immerse yourself in the process. A mind blowing novel is a great example for that. You don’t skip to the end of the story, you live the characters lives and emotions without once bothering about the fate of them. Whatever the ending may be, you come to terms with it because you enjoyed the ride and weren’t waiting for the spectacular view.
After all this, you realize success and failure aren’t two different things. Success lies in the lap of failure. Like luscious fruit hanging on the highest branch on a tree of your dreams. This comes with a condition. This is the mind we’re talking about. The famous comparison goes, ‘mind monkey’ and the world a seductive forest. Failure is a guaranteed constant because the mind simply raises the bar of expectations higher every time you cross a milestone.
Then what will serve as the criteria of fulfillment? When does one know when to stop?
The ideal answer would be to not be attached to the results of the work you’ve done. The advent of this statement changes the definition of failure itself. Failure’s definition would then mean inability to control the mind’s tyranny. Now that’s a whole different debate altogether.
Now so far this has been pretty talk about failure and why we should look at the harnessable
potential it contains. But how should we should approach it? What are the the baby steps that should be taken to change one’s perspective?
The first thing that comes to mind is, relentless focus on the angle of your thoughts. What I mean is,
every time you bemoan over the mistakes you have made, look at how far you’ve come. Look at what made you think that resulted in the faulty solution. This way not only do you get a sunny and rewarding perspective, but also the key to correct your mistakes; which if you look at it is a success in itself. Plainly because you identified the problem. Identifying the problem is a huge progress.
The second thing would be tracking your progress in a realistic manner. Care should be taken that you
don’t view your progress through a microscopic lens but with a broad eye.
Thirdly, forgiveness is important. The mind is a powerful organ and can come in the way of the body’s natural mechanism of healing. Forgiveness is one such balm.
How to inculcate forgiveness?
Surround yourself with creative, secure and strong people. Creative people have a knack for handling failure. Such mindsets will instill a healthy attitude towards whatever result that may come your way.
The problem lies in the ostracization of failure. This ostracization must have come in the wake of
curiosity’s demise. We can blame society all we want but that is liken to stagnation. A society is a
flowing river, and it can flow only when it’s constituents are willing to take the risk of cleaning the
muck. Once we become a flowing river, we expand and become one with the sea. Becoming one with
the sea means realizing your potential and going beyond boundaries.