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Failures are the stepping stones to success

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There are three ways in which we can look at failure. Firstly failure is something which is a bad thing, something to be ashamed of. Secondly, it is something which is inevitable and has to be tolerated. The third way is to look at failure as something desirable and even to be encouraged. After all, only those who do something fail and not those who do not attempt anything at all!

When you walk on the beaten track there is every possibility that you are going to encounter lesser difficulties and hence there is a lesser possibility of you not succeeding. All of us have the freedom to decide the path that we want to tread and where we want to be. After all, in the words of Robert Frost, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.”

Most of us lack self-confidence and have very little faith in our own abilities. Even the great Thomas Edison, whose most – quoted quote was ,“Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration,’ so deeply believed in the perspiration theory that he was startled when his first experiment with the invention of phonograph was successful. He refused to believe it and put the project away and took it up only a decade later. As a result, the invention of the phonogram got delayed by a whole 10 years!

We can develop self-confidence only when we are not afraid of failures and are able to take set backs in our stride. No failure is fatal and no success final. It is better to try and fail, rather than do nothing and let life take its course.

Sometimes, your greatest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take for example, this story of a 10 year-old boy, who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began taking lessons with an old Japanese judo master. He was doing well, so he could not understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move. “Shensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?”

“This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the Sensei replied.

Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy reached finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced.

For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match, when the sensei intervened and insisted, “Let him continue”. Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: He dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy won the match and the tournament. He was the champion!

On the way home, the boy and his Sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind, “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”

“You won due to two reasons, the Sensei answered. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

The boy’s greatest weakness had become his greatest strength.

Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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