I think one of the most difficult things in life is getting over failures. However we might have read about ‘failures being stepping stones for success’, or ‘we cannot really succeed without failing at some thing’, but getting over failure ain’t easy. We all have heard about Edison trying out like 10000 times, before he could succeed in lighting the electric bulb. Even the today’s generation Edison, which is no other than Elon Musk, had failed endless times to fly a rocket and build an electric car, and he did succeed at the end. Even J K Rowling was rejected several times for publishing her novel, and she even had to abbreviate her name to more or less sound like a man has written the book. Well, that’s another story, but she even had to struggle to succeed.
So, I wonder why dont these men and women get tired of failures? They say they persevered and were absolutely determined to fight until they win, which is true. But then if the receipe to make success and get over failures is so simple, then why don’t everyone around us ( including me) always succeed, and never fail?
Maybe many of us are conditioned to certain level of achievement. I mean we often work for and achieve a certain level of success, which is either influenced by society/family/friends or by our own interest/passion. Many would agree with me that our choice of career is also more or less influenced by what our family wants or even what our peers are going to do. Because it isn’t easy for a 18 year old to decide, what he/she is gonna do for the rest of the life, right! So, often the best profession or trade which suits the most accepted convention is chosen. And when a large group of people decide to embark on a certain profession, it certainly gets standardised. Which is like the achievements in that profession are often weighed by the well defined norms. Let me explain by an example- For someone who decides to become a software engineer, just like his/her peers, the highest level of achievement or success is to end up working for a famous software company like Google or Microsoft. Because that’s what the successful software engineer is supposed to do. This is peer defined success standard. There are very few who dare to break this norm, by working for a not so famous startup or even starting their own software company. They are the ones who are driven by passion.
So, when people are driven by peer group defined success standard, the inspiration to achieve a lot is not so high. They become satisfied once they are working for that particular company. But if they fail to achieve that, then its a big failure for them. And that failure is not so well accepted by the society. And when this happens, the confidence drops down, and only after sheer efforts and determination to rise up, does that confidence and success comes back.
But after having seen that failure and how society treats someone who failed, it isn’t easy for all to push even further. They are happy in what they have achieved as long as they achievements are socially accepted. But the internal drive to push further gets lost somewhere, and they end up in becoming the typical, which the society always wants us to be. Our approval to becoming a ‘typical’, is because of the fear of failing, and thereby losing social acceptance. But what we miss here is that by deciding to flow with the current and thereby not trying to achieve what our heart really wants to, makes us a failure at the end. That’s why J K Rowling very well said that when “you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
While for the few fortunate ones, who are driven by their passion and not by peer or societal acceptance, they are the ones who really reach the sky. Thats why it is said that “There is always room at the top”. But the road to reach the top is strenuous and often solitary. Because just like Steve Jobs, only the misfits, the rebels, the crazy ones, the round pegs in the square holes, are the ones who survive this arduous journey. I don’t know what evolution says, but for some mysterious reason, not everyone can be like them, or maybe we choose not to be like them. Because its hard to stay away for a long time from society approval, or even harder to face the difficulties when we try to swim against the current. Only the brave ones do it, and they end up pushing the human race forward.
Hence, its really upto us to decide what do we really want. For some, the need for social approval is high and so does their own level of achievements and ability to bear failures depends on. While for others like Richard Feynman, they really don’t care what others think about them ( he even wrote a book with the similar title…), and their own set of achievements and failures are purely their own. There is no right or wrong here, as everyone can best decide whats best for them, right!
But above all, there is one thing which matters at the end which is our own attitude to never give up. Its OK to be satisfied in any work or with any level of achievement, as not everyone can or wants to be the CEO. Also, even though there is room at the top, but it is also less crowded and isolated, which isn’t a good thing. So, what is more important is to know that we all have the ability to fight back for any cause or purpose we want. As long as we are happy and satisfied, we are good. But do not let society make us typical. Failure and success come and go, but we should never ever give up. I learnt this from my Mom, who really fought hard against cancer. She never complained, and was always positive, till the end. This attitude is our real strength. Giving up is not our attitude. Be it pandemic, losing a job, going bankrupt in business, or whatever tough time comes in our life, we can not lose our belief that we can and will successfully come out of it, someday! Maybe that’s the only way to get over any failure in life…..
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