What do we do when we succeed at something? We cheer, pump our fists, go out and celebrate, splash the cash. However small or huge the success is, we bask in the glory of the moment and set our expectations higher than before, hoping for more and bigger adrenaline rushes in the future.
By it’s nature, success is corruptive because it triggers thoughts of invincibility and allows complacency to creep in to our behaviour; we get a sense of unjustified entitlement to automatic success. All of which may cause our downfall in the future.
Failure however, is an entirely different matter. When this unwanted visitor calls on us we feel shock, disappointment, sadness, depression even. But sooner or later, we tend to sit up and analyse where we went wrong, draw lessons from the experience, pick ourselves up and get on with life. Essentially, we learn from the experience and become stronger, tougher, wiser and generally more experienced.
Of course, no one sets out to fail or welcomes failure but; what we need to recognise is that failure is a much better teacher than success. We need to welcome failure as an essential building block of our future success. Sure, failure tastes horrible; so does medicine, but we take it because we have been conditioned from a young age that it is good for us.
I believe we should teach our young people to plan for success, prepare to accept failure and draw life lessons from it. I also believe we must teach them to do less fist pumping when they succeed and analyse where they went right.
Rudyard Kipling’s poem “IF” has a very apt segment which sums up this point well:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Here is to ‘failure’!