Rising from Failure to Success in 2015

2015-02-08 12:51

Last week, a distraught friend asked me: “How does one rise from failure?” I tried to provide her with my perspective on failure. After our conversation, I thought it would be useful to write on the topic for a wider audience; giving that we just entered a new year, and many people naturally want to achieve more this year than they did last year. So I decided to adapt one of the chapters in my book, Beyond Tomorrow: Fundamental Principles for Achieving Academic Excellence, for this purpose.

WE NEED TO KNOW THAT EVERYONE FAILS. Success means setting a goal and achieving it. Conversely, failure means not achieving set goals. A student knows how painful it is to fail an exam; a business person whose business has folded up, knows the pain; an athlete knows the pain of failure. There are a number of reasons why failure is painful. These include: -

- Feeling that we did not try our best.

- Knowing that we disappointed loved ones and those who believed in us.

- The feeling of being stagnated while our friends make progress.

- The fact that we could have saved money and other resources if we had succeeded

- The feeling of delayed celebration.

Although success is desirable, we all fail at some point in our lives. Yes, we all fail at something. If you have never failed, then you probably have never tried something big. The best football teams sometimes lose matches and the best entrepreneurs sometimes make losses. Everyone fails. While ordinary people tend to give up when they fail, successful people resolve to keep pushing. Although we all fail at some point, those who give up trying are those who remain failures.

THERE IS VALUE IN FAILURE. It is important to know that failure is not the opposite of success; it is part of success. Therefore, there is value in failure – there are lessons the wise can learn from it. Bill Gates said, “It is fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Failure is feedback, telling us that we may have done something wrong. If we remedy the input, an output of success naturally follows. I am often heartbroken to hear or read that a student committed suicide because he or she failed an exam. When I wrote my final year school leaving certificate and matriculation exam in Nigeria, I failed. As a result, I could not go to university that year with my classmates. I had to enrol in a college to rewrite the exams. As you can well imagine, it was a painful year for me. But I resolved to overcome that experience and create a better future for myself. I am glad I did not give up.

- I failed my matriculation exam, but today I am medical scientist

- I failed my matriculation exam, but today I have five postgraduate qualifications

- I failed my matriculation exam, but today I am lecturer at one of the top universities in the continent.

- I failed my matriculation exam, but today I am an author.

- I failed my matriculation exam, but today I am recognised as one of the top 200 young South - Africans by the Mail and Guardian.

Everyone needs to learn to see failure as an event and not the end of an aspiration. If we are not satisfied with our current situation, we should realise that we possess the power to use our dissatisfaction as a stepping stone to better outcomes. We can close the door on our past and embrace a better future. He is not wise who does not benefit from failure.

SEVEN STEPS TO RISING FROM FAILURE. Here are seven steps we can all take from failure to success.

1 Let it sink in. A student who has failed needs to allow the realisation to sink in. It is irresponsible to just walk away as though nothing happened. Indeed time, money and other resources may have been wasted in the process of failure. However, this should not take too long a time. A few hours of healthy introspection should be enough.

2 Get perspective. Failure is an event. Failing in something does not make you a failure! A pessimist says, “I knew I would fail because I always have bad luck.” An optimist says, “Failure is only feedback; I need to check what I did wrong.”

3 Write down the reasons. Failure occurs for two reasons: doing things without thinking about them and thinking about things without doing them. What should you have done and what should you not have done?

4 Plan to fix broken windows. Having listed what you should have done and what you should not have done, proceed to write down a plan to correct the things you did wrong.

5 Get support. Speak to one or two top students in your class or even your teacher. Ask for past exams scripts if possible and change methods where needed.

6 Throughout the process, develop and retain possibility thinking. Think, talk and act like a winner. Keep the dream alive. Tell yourself you are not giving up. Find determination to try and try again until you succeed.

7 Pray!

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