By Kwabena Brako-Powers
The road to great discovery is muddy impeding smooth journey. No one could make it to the other side of the road without bruises — scars of accomplishment. And to master the road, one has to show a lot of bruises for it. Success, like science, is replete with trial and error without which the destination remains unclear — far from one’s reach. Trial and error have driven innovation and creativity in our world more than any attribute I have ever come across. To persist in doing something that produces undesirable results repeatedly invites nobler qualities as positive attitude, discipline, fate-heartedness, and determination.
What we call failure is also another result of our actions — a direct consequence of what we did or failed to do. The fact that we have labeled it ‘failure’ or ‘defeat’ doesn’t change its nature. It’s an instructor and not an obstructer. Its role is tantamount to that of a direction giver. It reminds you that you’re on the wrong side of the road. Why would you be aggrieved when it’s been pointed to you that you’re on the wrong road? Wouldn’t you be glad to make a change of route? The man has given so much power to this other result of the success that its presence in his life immobilizes and places him in an inertia mood for God knows how long. When his child commits the least mistake in the home, he crumbles into shreds, his self-confidence and esteem—thinking he’s done well. Labels are fired at the child’s direction when he places last in school exams or community games. What may not be obvious to us is that we’re clearly teaching our children the wrong stuff which would prove fatal for their adult lives.
Day in and out, our world is buoyed up by the lives of persons who have mastered the road of success with enough bruises to show. Often these persons are first generation millionaires or billionaires. Their stories would rattle you from your comfort and connect you to the common denominator that all the successful people share. These persons put on their badge of bruises, as though telling you that you can make it. And yes they meant it. You can make it. We can all be there if we embrace failure in our lives. I have failed severally that failing doesn’t strike a chord in my being any longer. It has assumed this usualness that it doesn’t hurt anymore—it rather empowers me. The victories of my life have been won by the determination to travail in the furnace of my failures. Often I go about this, with new sets of attitudes and ideas. I don’t repeat the same activity especially when the result has been everything but successful. It’s unfortunate we don’t write books about how to fail. We need to read the sign on the wall which reads, ‘No bruises, No successes’. Those who pump metals every morning have this to say, ‘No pain, No gain’. How true this is!
Thomas Edison, a man remembered for his invention of the light bulb that took him 1,000 tries before he was able to develop a successful prototype, reminds us of how we must approach failure. Some described him a failure especially after endeavoring for 1,000 times to get around the light bulb. In an interview with a reporter, he had this to say: “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” the reporter asked him. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”, Edison responded. Perhaps, the reporter thought Edison would be ashamed of himself for having attempted the project 1,000 times. However, his response to the reporter reminds us all of what is required of us when we hit that wall in our lives and when all come crashing on us—we need to remain focus if our aim is to get footprint made on the sands of time. This will open several ways of accomplishing the big picture in our lives.
Heath said that the quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward the failure of ‘no fear’. When Xerxes discussed his planned attack on Spartan with his uncle, Artabanus enumerated obstacles that he believed could cause the defeat of Xerxes. “No man of sense, my lord could find any fault with the size of your army or the number of your ship. If you increase your forces, the two powers I have in mind will be even worse enemies to you than they are now. I will tell you what they are – the land and the sea”, Artabanus said. Xerxes’ response to Artabanus is instructive and could be helpful to you: “…nevertheless you ought not to be so timid always, or to think of every accident which might possibly overtake us. If upon the proposal of a plan you were always to weigh equally all possible chances, you would never do anything. I would much rather take a risk and run into trouble half the time than keep out of any trouble through being afraid of everything”. All the easy stuff in our lives were first difficult. They’re now easy because we broke that protocol to see them as demotivating and immobilizing. The fact that they are easy today is a testament to our inner resolve to master them and we can do same to our current situation. Break out of the shell of fear and great exploits would be a given.
Well if you don’t want to change your perception of failure, see it as an accident. Anything can happen. Everything happens. The least mistake on the part of a driver of a vehicle will send his car crashing down snuffing the lives of innocent passengers. Failure is an accident too that does happen when you press the wrong button in your life. Or when you fail to apply the break at the right time. We all do sometimes. Many times. This shouldn’t turn you into a timid person overnight. It should rather embolden you to take the risk. The bigger the risk the bigger the accomplishment. Repeat the determination creed to yourself, ‘for-all-I-care, No Pain, No Gain’. Learn to care-less about failing and to care, rather, more about winning. The big picture should motivate and direct your focus.
All of us are failures at a certain point in our lives, yet we are conquerors and victors at all time. Your ability to conquer failure will make you more of a victor than a failure. Let us aim to be victors in our lives through the conquering of failure every step on the way. I have scars of failure to show up for my many successes. How about you? Wear the badge of honor.