27 Nov 2013

DEMYSTIFYING FAILURE

By Ezim Osai ,
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
  
                                             "If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again."
                                                                                                   - Mrs Helen Odume

Failure is your friend. The world is designed in such a way that people tend to be afraid of failure and avoid it at all costs and ignore the reality of things. Failure is inherently neutral; like money it is neither good nor bad but can be interpreted and used anyway one chooses to, based on his temperament, beliefs and frame of mind.

Failure is relative as well. It does not mean the same thing to two people. If Individual A plans to score 70% or higher in an examination and another Individual B plans to score at least 40% in the same examination, their bases of failure are different. Therefore, if A scores 65% he would not have met his target which is a failure of sorts, while B who may have scored 42% will be very pleased with himself for having met his target. Although the score of Individual A is higher than the score of Individual B and the world may look at Individual B as a failure, Individual B would probably be more pleased with himself than A would as he met and passed his own target. This is what failure and success is and not what we sometimes go about forcing ourselves to believe.

In my JSS3-SSS2, I was a star student in my school as I won several competitions and prizes and always emerged top of my class. After a while, success became natural to me and I grew complacent, over-confident and full of myself. With the mentality that ako mi ti poju I enrolled and sat for the November/December WAEC GCE. I prepared lackadaisically as I believed I was equal to the task and whatever they might throw at me. I failed woefully. The cloud that my head was in suddenly dissipated and it brought me back to Earth painfully. Nobody had to tell me to rid myself of whatever I thought I was and start working towards my SSCE and JAMB.
In the case of the story I just told, failure served as a reminder to me. It helped me remember that there was still work to be done and that I had to put in more effort. Of course, when it happened it was very painful and I was presented with two choices: Despair and deny the truth, saying things like ‘it was not my script they marked’ OR I could gain strength from the pain and shame of failure and reach for success. When I saw the results of my SSCE, NECO and JAMB, I was genuinely happy as the bitter taste of failure helped me recognise the sweet taste of success when it came. I chose to make failure my friend rather than my enemy and I have walked side by side with him ever since.

Some people say ‘I can’t think failure, I can’t comprehend failure, failure is not my portion’ and I like to respond with a line I remember from Lil Wayne’s John; he [Lil Wayne] says ‘prepared for the worst but still praying for the best’. If we cannot comprehend and make plans for failure, then we are denying the fact that it is possible. Refusing to look at the tail of a coin does not mean it is not there. Saying we cannot ‘consider’ failure or even think about it is a mild form of self-deceit. I remember reading a John Grisham book (A Time to Kill I think) where the protagonist Lawyer’s most promising jury member was dismissed because he said he could not ‘consider’ the death penalty to punish a crime. Needless to say more on this but refusing to acknowledge a fact does not diminish the possibility of it.

The only way we can make failure our friend and companion is choosing not to fear it like some of our teachers want us to. We have to learn how to get back up when we are knocked down and we have to learn how to learn from our past mistakes. Failure makes the taste of success sweeter and it makes victory more worthwhile. My proprietress in Primary School always used to tell us ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’. It is said that Thomas Edison tried over 900 arrangements before he invented the light bulb, it is said that Abraham Lincoln failed about three times before he was elected as the President of the United States of America, it is said that Roxio had produced 52 other games before they could make the hit game Angry Birds, it is said that Victory loves Preparation and preparation means planning. 

Everything may work out alright and we may never know failure which is very good but we must also make plans for it and choose not to be weighed down by it. Failure is my friend and I never spare an opportunity to learn from him; whether he is in my house or in my friend’s house, I always look to see what he is doing.






Ezim Osai is a 200L Physics major at the University of Ibadan. A Taoist and a Christian, he loves Cooking, Travelling, Reading, Writing, and loves to absorb nature.

1 comment:

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