Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:21 AM

Failure is a comma, not a full stop

A student from Hyderabad pursuing M.S. programme at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, in the United States, committed suicide, depressed over his poor performance in the semester exams. Such a small failure has cost the life of a brilliant student. The young life wouldn’t have been extinguished if he had read a simple statement by one of the greatest innovators in world history, one who failed number of times before unveiling his greatest invention- the incandescent light bulb. 

The great survivor was Thomas A. Edison. His pearls of wisdom were, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” In fact, as Winston Churchill was to say later, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” 

Ronnie Screwvala, founder-CEO of UTV Group said, “Failure fascinates and intrigues me. I believe that in life, failure can be a bigger motivator than success. It’s a given fact that people are going to fail, not just once, but multiple times; and if you can ruin the concept of fear of failure completely, then you are definitely onto something constructive. People think failure as a dead-end, and that’s the problem."

Do not worry if you lack something. No human being is perfect. At the same time, no one is completely imperfect too. Look at a wall-clock that has stopped ticking. You would perhaps think that it has been rendered useless. But, on a more positive note, even a non functional wall-clock will show the time correctly twice in a day. 


Assume that the clock has stopped working at 8 o' clock. It is still bang on at 8AM and 8PM. Mercifully, none of us has stopped working like the wall-clock. Albert Einstein was once travelling in a train. He was on his way to deliver a lecture. A young man was seated beside Einstein. The scientist asked the young man, “Where are you going?” to which the fellow-companion said, “I am going to listen to a lecture by a distinguished scientist called Einstein”. 


Apparently, the young man had never seen a picture of the century’s greatest scientist. The young man repeated the same question to Einstein. The scientist replied that he was also going to the same event. Later, Einstein was noting down all the travel expenses. He was desperate in trying to add these figures. But, he was always going wrong.  

He asked the young man to help him in the calculation. The young man then questioned," You are unable to do this simple addition. How can you understand the legendary scientist’s lecture? " The next day morning, when the scientist rose to address the gathering, the young man had shivers down his spine. He sought an apology. Einstein, with a gentle smile on his face, comforted the shell-shocked youngster, “My dear young man, I know everything except addition. You know nothing except addition.”

This story reveals that even the greatest of brains may go wrong elsewhere. Do not get scared by failure. Analyse the reasons for failure. Realign your goals. Recalibrate your strategy by plugging the lapses and evolving a ‘Yes, I can’ morale-booster.

This is what a chapter from Ramayana teaches us. Remember the duel between Vali and Sugreeva?
Sugreeva invites Vali for a showdown on the assurance that Lord Rama would hunt down Vali. But, Rama did not do so. Sugreeva was humbled. Rama explained to him that he could not do so because he could not identify him as the twin brothers looked alike even physically. Then, Sugreeva puts on a garland around his neck before the second round. The issue is settled, once and for all.

Even Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, as leader of the Indian Space Programme failed in his first attempt to provide the perfect take-off to the satellite launch vehicle. But, the subsequent launches were a grand success bringing unparallel glory to India and inspiring the ‘learner’ in him to scale dizzying heights.

Take for instance, the greatest Indian actor of the century- Amitabh Bachchan, who was rejected when he first approached a director for a role. The reason was that he was found to be too tall. However, the undeterred and never say die Amitabh stuck to his dreams. Perseverance and the compelling urge to re-orient made him what he has become.

Remember the eternally relevant adage-the greatest thing in life is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. Indeed! Certainly, failure is a comma, not a full-stop. 


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