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Nkosinathi Mokoena
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Why we fail

02 November 2011, 14:00
In 2008, I read a book titled Failing Forward by JC Maxwell. In the book there is this great story of four monkeys that were put into a room which had a pole at the middle and bananas hanged on top of the pole.

One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab the banana, he was doused with a torrent of cold water. Each monkey made similar attempts, and each was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they finally gave up. Then the researcher replaced one monkey with a new one, as the new comer attempts to climb the pole the other three will grab him and pull him down to the ground

After trying to climb the pole several times but being dragged down by others, he finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again. The researchers replaced the original monkeys with new monkeys one by one but each new monkeys would be dragged down if it attempts to climb the pole. In time, the room was filled with monkeys who never received cold showers. None of them would climb the pole and none of them knew why. They kept on pulling each other down to the ground.

I am sure most South African's can relate to the story. I am not by any chance referring to Africans as monkeys but I am elucidating the fact that we do similar things related to this story. I don't understand that, what wrong with us.

Firstly, we fail because of the same reasons everyday but we don't learn anything from that. The original monkeys failed to get on top because they could not handle the cold water on their face. They fail to dance on the storm instead, they waited for an umbrella.

What am I saying? I am saying we fail because we don't learn from failures around us. We fail because we can't seem to adapt to the conditions at hand. We fail because we seem not to understand that there is a rough path along your transport to your spot. It’s not going to be easy! You are supposed to hold on to the pole even if you faced slippery conditions. We sometimes expect things to be straight forward just like a ruler.

Secondly, we accept defeat easily hence, we dragged others down. Just because you failed to be successful in your academics in your schooling days, it does not mean that you should discourage others and tell them that it is impossible to achieve certain task just because you failed to advance in your attempt. Just because some people aren't faced with the same conditions as yours, it doesn't mean that you should be jealous and drag them down to your level whenever they tried to advance to another level.

We Africans have a serious problem, just because your child is dumb at school, it doesn't mean you should hate your neighbour’s kids because they are excelling. Why don't you ask yourself why they turned to mount better than your kids? What have you as a parent embedded in your kids? Ask for advice from your neighbours on how are they doing it instead of having them and developing unnecessarily hatred and jealousy.

Lastly, if we are going to continue pulling each other down instead of supporting each other, we will end up in one room, with one goal which is to pull everybody down to our level. We will end up with a new generation with the same old motives of staying on the same level. We will end up pulling each other down to the ground but not knowing why we are actually doing it. People wake up! Realise that you can actually learn something from someone setbacks.
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