Failing successfully

Failing successfully

Failing is a universal phenomenon.  The ugly face of failure has stared straight at our faces every now and then, bringing disappointments and discouragements.  However, in reality, there is much that ‘failing’ can offer as failure is never final.

American inventor Charles Franklin Kettering has suggested that we must learn to fail successfully.  In his words, “Once you have failed analyse the problem and find out why, because each failure is one more step leading up to the cathedral of success.”  In effect, Kettering, the holder of 186 patents in America, is recommending a threefold formula to convert failures into victories:  firstly, face defeat in all honesty without faking success; secondly, exploit the failure, don’t waste it; and thirdly, never use failure as an excuse for not trying again.   What all this means is that we ought to let failure be our teacher, not our undertaker and to view it as a temporary detour rather than a dead-end street.

The early lives of successful people show, among others, one trait in common: the manner in which they viewed failure.  They seldom saw failure as fatal.  Instead they believed that failures were merely delayed victories.  As American author, Christian Nestell Bovee, put it, “A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough.”  Besides, victories that are easy are cheap.  Those only are worth having which come as the result of hard fighting.  History is full of pages of great warriors and inventors who refused to give up and accept defeat.  They found in every adversity the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.  

A philosopher once observed that a dove in as much as the only obstacle it has to overcome is the resistance of the air, might suppose that if only the air were out of the way, it would fly with greater rapidity and ease.  

Yet, if the air was withdrawn and the bird should try to fly in a vacuum, it would fall instantly to the ground unable to fly at all.  For, the very element that offers the opposition to flying is at the same time the condition of any flight whatever.  So it is with every human endeavour.  The very element that seems like a stumbling block to our efforts is most often the stepping stone that is required to succeed.  Just as continuous sunshine in August makes the earth parched, dry, hard and closed-grained, a life without failures will make men (and women) complacent, proud and lazy.  For in the end nothing fails like success and conversely nothing succeeds like failure! 

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