Monday, April 22, 2013

The Art of Failing

Recently, I was reading an article in the Economic Times, which mentioned about Failure, and start-ups/entrepreneurship. About the Indian society which traditionally tried to avoid risk taking in any field, especially when it comes to starting your own business. It also mentioned that failure is considered a taboo and looked down upon in our society. People who fail are stigmatized and sometimes even ostracized. They are even treated at par with criminals.

That article set me thinking. I could relate it to my own life. And I am pretty sure many of you reading this could relate it with your own as well. We Indians just don’t appreciate the value of failure. Most of us will be shocked to hear that Failure is something which is important to experience in life. Of course there will be many who will say- I have never failed once in my life. Or that, I always aim to succeed, etc. Don’t get me wrong. Am not saying that Failure should be your goal. But rather, we should accept the fact that failure is a part of life, and welcome it, rather than treating it as doomsday.

Lets start from a child. Ever since he joins school, he is constantly pressurized to perform well, in his studies, sports, extra-curriculars, and so on. Such high expectations can prove to be disastrous for the child’s personality. Often, he has to undergo humiliation and witness immense scolding or criticism by his/her parents, teachers and others. I have seen very few cases in which the child is actually encouraged to experiment, fail,learn and grow. No wonder the classical mindset of opting for a safe corporate/government job sets in from the very beginning, hence the establishment of rat races, and coaching institutes for IITJEE, CAT and the like.

I have seen cases in which the whole locality starts talking about that child, in case the poor soul actually fails in a subject, or God forbid, has to drop an year. Its seriously as if he has committed a crime which is unforgivable. I feel sad for this mentality which treats young children at par with criminals.
Competition in the Indian education sector is immense. Especially to get seats into the coveted institutions such as IITs, IIMs, NITs, etc. Thus from a very young age onwards, children are forced and pushed to enter such rat races. At an age when a child should be encouraged to pursue his/her own hobby or passion, to experiment and learn freely, he is forced to attend FIITJEE classes or mug up JEE study material.

But the worst part comes if the child actually fails to get a seat in any of the good colleges. He is labeled a failure, a loser, a good-for-nothing who is doomed in his life. Even his friends will start making fun of him. And all because he failed to crack IITJEE? I consider this the height of ridiculousness. But unfortunately, that’s how Indian society is. We tend to judge people more from their background, than from their real talents or work. Thus its the IIT rank that counts more than the sketches or stories which that child may be good at. And unfortunately, this rat race never stops. Even during placements, we compare the job profile, the package offered, and the benefits to decide who is the ‘best’, ‘second best’ and so on. For every single thing, we make needless comparisons which tend to destroy the inner self of the child.

Its high time that parents and teachers start educating their children with the fact that its perfectly okay to fail. Its totally fine to follow your own interests in life. As long as you are doing good and happy with your work, it doesn’t matter if you are earning more than your neighbor or not. Failure can teach a person many things which a normal, average situation may not. Fear of failure should not be a hindrance for a person to experiment, or try up something new. This enhances creativity and ultimately, performance.