The Success of Failure & The Failure of Success


It’s been a good Monday. I got a lot of work done. I learnt a little. And am happy about it. I was a success today. Tomorrow? Let’s see. This is my approach to life. If today is good, I’ll savour it. Why worry about tomorrow? If I fail tomorrow I’ll learn something more. I love my failures but unfortunately not everyone agrees with me.

I have a lot of well-meaning, loving people in my life who insist that I do as they say else I’ll end up a failure. I don’t blame them for their concern. They, after all, love me and want the best for me. Some want me to study in the US (everybody’s dream, isn’t it?) and some want me married (26 is after all the new 67). It’s one or the other. No middle ground. If I don’t do either one I’m a failure.

But it is important to understand the definition of success. Unfortunately, a lot of people relate success to the number of penthouses you own or the amount of pollution caused by the BMWs you drive. Success is measured in terms of Money. It has become more of what and when you’ve achieved it rather than how.

Success is subjective. It depends on what goals you define not by what society dictates. It’s not about the big paycheck you receive every month. It’s about the piggy bank that gradually fills up. It is about the journey rather than the destination. Imagine this. You are solving a crossword puzzle and are at it for hours. It’s exciting and fun. Once it’s over the enthusiasm wanes. Till the next crossword falls into your hands, of course. The excitement of uncovering every word is more valuable than the victory itself. Similarly, how we reach our goal is just as important.

Some things I’ve learnt:

  1. Fail, fail and fail:
    It’s only when we fail that we can understand our flaws and correct ourselves. If we never fail, we’ll always be ignorant of our potential.
  2. Criticism is crucial:
    If people praise your work all the time, there’s definitely something wrong with your work or something wrong with them. Criticism is important for two reasons. One, it helps us improve. Two, it’ll keep our attitude grounded. I have a friend who is afraid of criticism. He takes it personally and therefore is stuck believing that he is a failure.
  3. Listen to others but do as you please:
    This always works for me. Listen, nod and forget. Follow your dreams but be open to good advice.
  4. Perfection is a myth:
    Sometimes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is mistaken for perfectionism. Just punch it in the face and move on.
  5. Don’t compromise your values:
    It is important to adjust and adapt to little changes. But never settle for anything less than what you’ve wanted.
  6. Ignore hecklers:
    Many people will try to bring you down. Many will walk over you. Many will point fingers. And many more will laugh. Ignore them. They’re not worth your time.
  7. Encourage others
    Inspire others to work for their dreams by setting an example. We may not need support but others might.
  8. Don’t stop learning:
    That’s the only way success is permanent. Money will vanish. Fame will fade. Only knowledge will remain until the end. So learn as much as possible.

It’s always what we learn and experience that make us successful rather than the final prize. I’m not famous, nor am I rich. I am someone who dreams everyday and takes one step a day in fulfilling them. My success is dependent on my choices and mine alone. If I fail, I will learn and I will succeed.

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