Words have a deep impact on our emotions and self-esteem. They can motivate you or devastate you.
One such word is ‘Failure’ that is so dreaded that one can safely assume that half the world population have not achieved their full potential just because of this one word.
Even worse is the attitude of people towards others when someone does not achieve the expected outcome.
At a very early stage in life, when most kids do not even understand the purpose of going to school, they are put to rigors of tests and exams.
If a student did not know the answer to the question in a test ‘Which season do crocodiles reproduce ?’ – Should one consider the student as a failure ?
Sadly, most students study just to get good scores because of fear of failure rather than the reward and wisdom they gain from learning.
By now adults in education institutes should have realized that just like vegetables – some cook in no time and some take longer – each kids has a different pace in learning. They should not be labelled as failures if they did not get a good score. They will learn when it matters and they should be allowed to take however long it takes to learn the subject.
In sports, none of the participating team fails. It is well known that only one of the team can win a game and the other doesn’t but they do have an opportunity to bounce back.
In the corporate world, where change initiatives are executed through projects, a blame game when projects get delayed or fail to deliver the expected results has become the norm.
During my corporate career, I learnt from a mentor that to be a good leader one should have the approach of ‘When there is a problem, fix the problem – not the person’. Unfortunately, even today most leaders choose to fire employees rather than look into a solution.
It is even more shocking that most executives do not even understand the definition of a project – it is meant to be a risky venture. You can’t expect success all the time. You learn your lessons and move on.
Anyone who is in marketing would know the challenges of winning and engaging customers. In current economic times, most businesses operate in a very tough environment and very difficult to outperform the competitors. They revise their strategy and move on with business.
In the past few years though ‘Failure’ does not have the stigma associated with it as it used to be. Ever since we got hooked onto social media half a decade ago, most people must have read about Thomas Edison and his bulb at least zillion times. Tweeting about failure has become a favorite pass time for many.
While you can clear the toughest exam in any field of education you choose, the toughest test anyone can face is starting a business, where even hard work cannot guarantee you a success. Simply, because there are things that are out of your control.
Today, entrepreneurs are proud of their failure though. They accept responsibility of their own failures and move on to the next venture. They even proudly write about their failure stories on platforms like Medium.
Removing the word from the dictionary alone is not going to help though. We and the society in general must not only learn to accept and move on with our own failures, but other’s failures too.
Failure is a journey. Go ahead and fail and enjoy the journey.
An alternative and a better word for failure should be identified and included in the dictionary though.
Something like ‘pre-success’ sounds and feels better.