Should I be on a lookout for failure to build character and cherish success?

The Guest Talk started with the quote that  “People who avoid failure, also avoid success…“And I found it to be an extreme position; also quite silly. Perhaps because to the lawyer in me, words matter. They make a difference. ‘All’ the difference sometimes.

It’s boggling how we tend to breed extremism in what we write.

Why would one not try to ‘avoid‘ failure? Why would one want to embrace it? It’s simply a wrong phraseology. 

Striving for success is a duty we owe to ourselves and this life. Any other response prones you to internalise that being ‘first time wrong’ is acceptable—(in)famously characterised as ‘chalta hai’–It should not be. One must be mindful that it is attitude that defines the outcome.

One must avoid and resist failure, and give this avoidance his/her best shot. This is the very essence of the ‘self-preservation instinct’ which is touted to be the fundamental tendency of humans and non-human animals– to behave so as to avoid injury and maximise chances of survival. The heart-wrenching migration march of fatigued human species from Delhi and other places to all parts of India after/during lockdown last year is the most recent exemplifying episode of above, that we all witnessed.

What one must avoid is not trying, for the fear of failure. What one must avoid is not learning from the debacle, should one fail.

When weakness is known, wisdom lies in removing it–or at least making legitimate efforts towards such removal. The availability of oxygen, hospital beds, medicines and vaccines during the predicted subsequent waves of Corona is going to test the Indian government on this.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” … so said Thomas Edison. Failure, in this sense is an opportunity to grow and to build character. But, should we be actively looking for this opportunity? 


Failure has to be avoided—it’s not a virtue to be striven for. It must be learnt from and never feared… And all this, while keeping in mind that yes… To err is human, but to keep on erring is devilish.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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