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Failure more important than success?

The headline to this piece may seem a little strange considering that we are programmed to avoid failure and aim for success. But before we understand why failures are so important to achieving success, it is essential to define success and failure. Dr Shikha Sharma explains...

brunch Updated: Jan 14, 2012 19:46 IST
Dr Shikha Sharma

The headline to this piece may seem a little strange considering that we are programmed to avoid failure and aim for success. But before we understand why failures are so important to achieving success, it is essential to define success and failure.



Success: We all understand success as something that leads to material wealth, beautiful mansions, luxurious cars, lots of jewellery, fame, friends, happy marriages and so on.



While all of the above are wonderful experiences (at no point am I against them), they are not really the truth of life and its beauty. Sure, they give us a lot of pleasure. But the pleasure we get out of all of this is at best temporary. In management jargon, these are carrots, while the absence or denial of these pleasures is painful, which makes them a stick.



JK RowlingWhile pleasures keep us in our comfort zone, it is really failures that push us towards moving in the direction of inner success. To explain better, let me borrow a few lines from author J K Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard and her interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show: "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default."



Failure is the best teacher because it removes all bondages, fears, inhibitions, the what-will-my-neighbour-think kind of thoughts. It removes all erroneous notions of what the world thinks we should do, what is considered the "street smart" thing to do.

Failures remove the chains that hold us back. They reveal the important and essential parts of our core strengths and values. They open us to our inner voice, which is the true guru living within all of us.



Several real people failed for several years and while failing, actually discovered their true selves. J K Rowling (right) is one of them. Others include Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs.



The journey from the outer world of pleasures to the inner world of bliss begins only with failure.

From HT Brunch, January 15

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