Home > Ideas, Young Achievers > Fail!! … The new Mantra!

Fail!! … The new Mantra!

Failure, the road to Success!

As kids many of us have heard our parents say, “No matter what you do please make sure that you don’t fail in the exams. Do well at studies. You’ve got to top the class. Only then can you get a good job!”

This October I was at the 2-day TiE Conference in Cochin – cutting cross sectors one speaker after another came up to the microphone to say, “It’s good to fail! You learn from it.”

Hello! I thought we learned from books and from the words of wise folks; and from experience too, I guess?

But here was a bunch of successful people extolling the virtues of failure; failing is the IN thing!

Why all this fuss about failing; are we turning into the bunch of losers?

Far from it! And yes, I mentioned “learning from experience”!

Yesterday a friend called from UK – we’d been out of touch for a while. It’s been well over 2 years since I last heard from him. I asked why he gone off the radar for such a long time.

He said that his business had collapsed and it took him a while to recover from the disaster – he was running a small but successful venture in the Education Sector. I wondered what had caused the collapse.

He said that he had mortgaged his home and borrowed heavily to invest in a second business before the first had achieved steady state and the inability to juggle many balls at one time caused the crash. But right through the conversation he sounded chirpy, upbeat and positive. I told him that he didn’t sound like someone who’d taken such a hard fall.

What he said surprised me – “Jayadev, I am happy it happened. At first it shook me. But I sat down and thought about it, studied the events and realised what had gone wrong. Right now I am taking it easy for a while and doing work that is bringing me money without much risk. But I am going to rebuild my business in a while. The next time I know how to go about it. I feel enriched.”

And this guy isn’t 20 or 25 years of age – he is in the fifties and has kids going to college. I was impressed and said so too.

Wise folks have said “If you have never failed it means you have never done anything new in your life.”

Like I said at the top the Safety Bug is injected into our DNA quite early in life. We are told to abstain from taking any risk. Stick to the tried and tested – become a doctor or an engineer; at least, a lawyer. If that’s not possible find a Government or Public Sector job. The private sector was the last resort and entering business was absolute No-No!

I know that’s changed a bit and more youngsters are going for private sector jobs now thanks to the growth of the Service Sector.

However, the most recent trend has been Entrepreneurship! Many young men and women are launching ventures, shooting movies or offering unique services in previously unexplored and unexploited niches.

Many of them drop out of school or go for these previously untried ideas at the expense of a steady job. It is a brave new world out there.

The lack of safety in regular jobs and the lack of suitable jobs caused this shift in thinking. And availability of an enabling environment permits such risk.

Just to put things in perspective – when my dad told me to study he was talking about Effort. He usually said it when I had gone many days without touching my books – had been gallivanting with friends or just playing. He was trying to point me in the right direction.

I think the FAIL message tells us to try new things; it is not about slacking or doing things sloppily. It’s about doing the previously untested and about taking calculated risk. It’s about questioning the status quo, seeking new ways to do old things and breaking new frontiers.

So many youngsters are trying out “crazy” (which usually means regular folks can’t comprehend it) things – some succeed, but many come a cropper. The successful ones have found their Holy Grail, but the ones who failed need not be disheartened – they put in a huge effort and got invaluable experience. It certainly would have enriched them if they had taken stock!

So, dear friends, the message is as follows:

–          Failing is not about “not doing”, “slacking” or “fooling around”

–          Dare to be different, be unconventional (Not stupid!)

–          Go off the beaten route, break new ground

–          Take calculated risks, don’t be afraid of falling

–          Focus on the experience, learn from it

–          Don’t give up, keep trying

Go ahead! Fail, and then succeed! That’s much better than failing to succeed.

P.S – Entrepreneurship is not the only option available – there are many good jobs out there. But if you have a good idea don’t be afraid to try it out. It’s for you to decide how deep you want to go into it and how much risk you wish to take?

Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained!


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  1. November 26, 2012 at 4:27 am

    You’ve given a very clear idea of what actually entails failure and more importantly, what doesn’t . I like this one very much!

    • JayadevM
      November 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Thank you, Raji! 🙂

  2. November 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Well written J!!! Nice article and enjoyed reading it!!

    • JayadevM
      December 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you, Biju.

  3. November 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Loved this one! I think it is a message that we have to guve our kids – it is ok to fail….provided you did your best. That would really give them the confidence to try their best and if things go wrong, it is still ok, you just learn and try harder the next time, maybe on something else

    • JayadevM
      November 26, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      You said it!

  4. asha
    November 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Jay when i was in school my mum used to tell me,”Study well mole only then can you get a Goverment job which would give you a secure future till death”.It was instilled into all of us….failure was a word that was taboo.But the present generation has inspired everyone including old timers to take risks,to venture into unknown realms and recover inspite of failures.I have seen a lot of friends here in the UK who are happy inspite of their failures,their jobless state who are still willing to risk it because for them all failures are stepping stones to their betterment…its something i learnt after coming here and i am happy for it because it has made me a better person.The example of your friend is true….i can relate to it very well….People who have got back to their feet inspite of their failings are the true champions and not the people who have never tried and still lament about failing.

    • JayadevM
      November 27, 2012 at 3:51 am

      Hi Asha

      Well said! The younger generation is certainly breaking new ground and, like you said, teaching us oldies some interesting new lessons.

      A wise did say that Child is the father of man!

      Thank you for sharing those insights; they add strength to my message.

  5. November 27, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Very good and appropriate post……


    • JayadevM
      November 27, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Thank you, Debopam.

  6. Jamy
    November 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Jay, I failed to become an engineer, but learnt so much from the experience and have utilised so much of that knowledge in the hotel industry. Can absolutely relate to this!! Well written Jay!!

  7. vinod mathummal
    November 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Like it is said,….no pain then there is no gain!! There is nothing to be ashamed off if one fails as long as one has given his or her 100%. .how would you know the sweet taste of success unless you have failed..

    • JayadevM
      November 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Brilliant! Thank you for corroborating.

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