Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success. — Thomas J. Watson
Today, we all live in a world where the meaning of “success” changes every day. In olden times, earning a living, having a family, or building a house was all considered success. But today’s youth are looking for all this and more to be termed successful.
They want to find meaningful jobs. They want to win the hardest battles within themselves and step out of their comfort zone. They want to travel the world. In spite of all these changes, the essence of achieving success has not changed.
When one does not understand this essence of success, one fails. Success does not and has never come easy. It requires commitment, passion, hard work, and lots of patience. More than anything else, success demands courage. It calls for a will to improve and try again every time one fails. Thus, the courage to accept failures and dedication to improve can be called as the two facets of any kind of success a person wants to achieve in his life.
The Elements of Courage
What is Courage? Courage is the ability to do something that frightens someone. It is also the strength in the face of pain or failure. Courage is an extremely significant path in the journey of success. Courage is what makes someone choose a difficult path. It is the courage of a sailor that keeps the ship moving in a storm.
One requires the courage to commit to his/her dream and courage is necessary to overcome the different obstacles and work towards his/ her goal. When one fails to achieve the goal, the courage to accept failure and the courage to improve oneself and try again is essential. Let us look deep into what courage is demanded of us on the path to success.
The first significant step where a person has to show courage is when he chooses his goals. It is easy to stay within one’s comfort zone and aim for things within reach, but when one aspires to achieve goals outside his comfort zone and dreams to have things beyond his reach, it takes immense amounts of courage.
The courage shown by Gandhiji to choose to come back to India and join the freedom movement after being pushed off a train in South Africa was a key moment in our freedom struggle. Once a person chooses a goal, he must then have the courage to commit himself to it and work towards it without getting distracted.
Success requires multiple sacrifices. One needs to pass through many obstacles to reach his goal. He must show the courage to not give up irrespective of all these hardships to be able to succeed.
But, the most important show of courage is required when one fails. It is true that failure is a stepping stone to success. The one without the courage to face failure may put the blame on circumstances and give up. But, only someone with the courage to accept his mistakes in the light of failure can succeed.
We all make mistakes. “To err is human,” said Alexander Pope. We need to look within ourselves to understand what exactly went wrong. It is also a good idea to ask the people around us for suggestions. When someone points out a mistake, we must not be afraid to accept our errors.
Patience is another virtue that is necessary when looking for constructive criticisms. Further, instead of feeling guilty about any actions, we must look at how we can improve ourselves. Let us take the example of a famous businessman Steve Jobs. We all know about his success with Apple.
But do we know that Steve Jobs was fired by the same company after the failure of Apple Lisa in 1983? Steve Jobs accepted his mistake of judgment on the product and continued to work hard. He finally found his way back to the company in 1997 and led it during a period of growth and innovation. Thus, his courage to accept his mistake became his biggest strength.
This applies to not only individuals and corporate but also to societies and countries. India has always tried to raise its voice against terrorism in world forums. In the light of these attempts, India tried to put Masood Azhar and his terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed in the UNSC 1267 list which would list him as an international terrorist under the UN.
But this move was repeatedly blocked by China. India accepted its failure and continued to improve its strategy and attempts to find ways to convince the world community. Finally, in April 2019, India succeeded after failing almost 6 times. This incident shows the importance of accepting defeat and trying to improve in the journey towards success.
The Dedication to Improve
As much as the courage to accept is necessary, it is useless without the urge to improve and try again. When one fails by going through a certain method, he should be willing to focus on the flaws of that method and find ways to correct them.
The dedication to improve is an extremely significant step in the path to success. Let us look at civil servant exams aspirants. Most do not clear it in the first attempt. But, to succeed they must have the courage to try again. They must analyze their mistakes and work hard to not repeat them. Only then is success possible.
When the recent abrogation of Article 370 happened, there were mixed reactions. While some criticized the government’s methods, others applauded the courage. But if we look at the intention of the government, we see one major objective – to improve the conditions of Kashmiris.
The government accepted that Article 370 was being misused and that we must abrogate the same in the path to fight terrorism. Thus, it began preparations to ensure smooth removal of Article 370. The dedication of the government to improve the circumstances at the border forced them to take steps that were beneficial. Here we see that without the dedication to improve, one cannot reach one’s goals.
The dedication to improve is a process. It begins with taking steps to identify the issues. Let us take the example of Raja Ram Mohan Roy who struggled to bring in social reforms in society. He began by identifying the social norms and practices which were unfair, discriminatory and inhumane.
As flaws are recognized, one must also analyze as to what can be done differently. After realizing the effects of the sati system, Raja Ram Mohan Roy decided to take it upon himself to put an end to the system and legalize widow remarriage.
Then, one must work towards implementing these changes in order to achieve success. Raja Ram Mohan Roy approached the then British government and had discussions and debates to prove his point. Finally, with persistent efforts, one can achieve success. The Bengal Sati Regulation came into existence in 1829 and soon, the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856.
From individual successes to achieving societal and national goals, the willingness to improve has been an essential element. Another important aspect of having the courage to accept and dedication to improve is optimism. Optimism is the ability to look at everything in a positive light.
As it is often said, “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.” Thus, optimism makes it possible to think rationally and take effective decisions in the event of a failure. We have seen how the optimism of the LGBTQ+ community led them towards constantly working to decriminalizing Article 377.
Even though the journey had ups and downs, with their courage to accept and dedication to improve their arguments and mobilize support, they finally succeeded. Even now, the community works towards improving LGBTQ+ rights in the country.
Various examples above have proven the importance of courage and dedication to improving the path to success. Similarly, in cases where such courage was not displayed and there was no dedication to improve, success has been few and far off. Let us look at the economic situation of the country.
Both demonetization and GST was implemented with good intention like removing black money or “One Nation One Tax”. But there were some flaws like rate structure. It is not bad to have problems in plans as problems can be resolved and an effective result can be obtained. But, the effective result is possible only when the government accepts these problems.
Instead, reports regarding economic slowdown were not published. No fundamental measures were taken to correct the shortcomings of GST and more importantly, its provisions were not made clear to the general public. Thus, we saw the result in a low GDP growth rate in the coming quarters.
Thus, we see how success is unattainable without the courage to accept and dedication to improve. No plan, process or program can be flawless. The difference between a successful plan and a failed one is how these flaws are handled. As famous playwright George Bernard Shaw said
“Success does not consist of never making mistakes, it consists of never making the same mistake twice.”