Getting over failure…

To understand more about failure and human nature ..

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…..

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Hope is a good thing!

How to be aware of the power within us!

The heading of this post might remind few of the readers about the epic movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. That movie is one of my favorites! In that movie, Andy Dufresne tells Red, that “Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies!”. I find this quote to be so much valuable in our life.

Because everything changes in life. Just like day and night, young and old, summer and winter, so does our situations, our successes, our failures all change with time. Similarly in life, we see events happening, and some events are so deep, that their effect remain with us for a long time. We feel that this will never change. We start losing hope, and then suddenly, out of utter darkness, there comes a ray of light which makes darkness disappear. That ray of light is the hope. A small good event can change the entire situation. We ought to keep faith in that ray of hope.

I particularly like the Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It is one of the splendid books ever written. For me, that book is something which charges my battery with renewed hope and faith, whenever failures or setbacks bombard me. That book is like a charging station of positivity and synergy. The book is very simple yet heart touching. The author had to undergo the worst experiences in Auschwitz, yet he managed to not only survive but also find hope and faith in such a hell. He even helped several of his colleagues to overcome depression and losing hope in life. The author simply argued that “Life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning. That we humans have a power to choose our response to situations, however gruesome they might be, And in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

I find this to be so true even in our daily life. Thank God we are in much better situation as compared to the infernal concentration camps. And we have the same power to respond to the situations we face in our life. Stephen Covey quoted ” Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling”. Isn’t the message by Viktor Frankl and Stephen Covey resonate on the same note?

The Peter Parker principle says “With more power, comes more responsibility”. I would add on to that, No power does not mean no responsibility. Because, whether the situation is good or bad, we all are “Response-Able”. Our response does not depend on the power. Rather, I find with positive or pro-active response to any situation, comes more power to beat the problem!

We all have the power and freedom to choose the response. We can either give positive or negative response. Everyone has the ability to respond. And this power to respond is a hope for us, that every situation can be changed. If some of us remember the movie Cast Away, we can relate how Tom Hanks desperately tried hard to get away from the island to reach civilization, but the stormy ocean waves destroyed all of his attempts. Until one day, he finds the same storm delivers a metal enclosure, and suddenly Tom receives a brainwave! He finds hope that he can escape using that part, and finally he builds a much stronger boat that can withstand the waves, and sails across the mighty ocean to get noticed by civilization! That’s hope and faith, my friend!

So, never lose hope, never lose your response, however dark the night may be!

Life is real short..

Steve Jobs once said in his commencement speech address that “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” If we keep the humor aside, then it does convey a deep aspect in our life.

Our life is real short, and we keep thinking that life is a long journey. We get involved in petty conflicts, we keep working for the job we hate, we keep talking nonsense things about others the entire day and listening the same from them. We often fail to realize that the end of life can happen anytime.

We need to spend our time on those things which we want to do in our life. We keep scheduling them ahead and ahead in life, but who knows what will be there ahead. We save money for a rainy day in future, but miss out the present joy by worrying about the future. Though there is nothing wrong to save money or invest for a better life ahead, but sacrificing the present joy, and happy moments for some bright sunny day is not always the wise choice. As we do not know how long we are gonna live, hence it is better to keep enjoying everyday life has given us, and also make sure we can enjoy the future similarly.

We need to be very mindful of how we talk, behave with people around us, especially within our family and friends. We often forget how our parents, family and friends are incredibly vital in our lives. Rather, we fight with them, keep some distance from relatives due to certain conflicts, compete with friends due to jealousy or envy, and even drag our family to courts for property or familial matters. I am not saying everything should be goody goody relations with family and relatives. That is not always possible, but the problem is often we spend so much time of our life in fighting with them on some issues, and we realize how petty that thing was when they suddenly die or pass away. We then feel guilty of how we behaved with them, then blame ourselves for the mistakes committed, and for not giving them few nice moments which they surely deserved.

Hence, we should always keep in mind that life is short not only for us, but for others as well, and there is no point in fighting over small petty issues with them. If we can’t live together with them, then atleast we can get separated amicably without fights or quarrels. Often divorce filing is one of the worst experience in a couple’s life, and by keeping in mind, that life is small and too valuable for not getting involved in such fights, then we realize in the long run, such legal procedures are just a waste of time. Also they make our life more miserable. It is better to live together or get separated without wasting time in long, costly legal fights.

Concluding, we need to just be aware that each day given to us is a gift by life, and it is important that we do some good work before the day ends. We never know what’s going to happen the next day. Everyday, even if we do a tiny amount of good work for others or add some value to the world, then our day has been worth lived……