Failure is part of the process that leads us to success. When seen from that perspective, we can begin to embrace it and learn the lessons it holds for us, says Jamuna Rangachari
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” says Michael Jordan, the ex-basketball player and businessman.
Actor Rahul Bose was the quintessential all-rounder in his years at the prestigious Cathedral School in Mumbai. "I was good at academics, sports, I acted, I wrote, I was good at debates. I thought I was a rockstar. My feet hardly touched the ground. And then after school, every one of my class mates, even the most mediocre of them, got admission to a foreign university except me"
That experience taught him many valuable lessons. "If it had not been for that, I would have been obnoxious, an absolute snob. The failure brought me down to ground and gave me some humility." Failure is not pleasant. It makes us feel inadequate. We doubt ourselves, reject ourselves, writhe under its harsh judgement, and often write ourselves off. To make it worse, society condemns failure and flays those who undergo it.
All of which is such a pity because failure is a most important and valuable experience. Indeed, it ought to be considered mandatory by schools and colleges that each of us undergo a failure experience. Fortunately, the Universe knows that, and in its infinite love for us, gives us many experiences of failure.
Without failure, we would never grow up. We would never understand reality. If we were to unfailingly succeed in all that we took up from an early age, we would begin to think that we were infallible. We would also look down on others for not being as smart as we were. We would be totally incapable of seeing their side of the story, or why it is that they were unable to deliver. Only failure brings us down to ground and makes us understand that not everything is under our control, and that we too, like everyone else, are under the dispensation of the Universe.
When we fail, we become vulnerable, and only vulnerability opens up our softer side. Understanding that we are as human as anyone else, enables us to relate to others as equals, which is the only way we can achieve love and intimacy in relationships. We also develop empathy for the other, for it is only pain that enables us to recognise pain in others.
Lavina Mehta (name changed), a Delhi-based
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