‘Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really! Double your rate of failure… You’re 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’ll find success. On the far side’. -Thomas John Watson, Sr.
How can we turn what is seemingly a failure as a stepping stone to success? Here is a very illustrative story–In the early 70s, there was a man named Fred Smith who wrote a term paper as an undergraduate, wherein he presented a novel idea, a parallel system to manage the logistic system in a complex emerging business scenario. He thought it was a brilliant idea, however his idea was not appreciated much and he landed a C grade for his project. Undeterred and with great faith & conviction in his idea, Fred activated that very project into a business model and worked hard despite challenges and huge stumbling blocks to find the world’s largest express transportation company, the FedEx Corp, which today stands worth $41 billion in revenues.
Winston Churchill once said that success is going from failure to failure without losing one’s enthusiasm. We never really fail until we give up trying, trying with determination and with enthusiasm. Actually, challenges or failures can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks on the road to success. It is all a matter of how we look at it. You can see a glass is half empty or you could see the glass is half full. One would bring you enthusiasm, one would get you discouraged. We can apply that principle to every aspect of our lives. What is of real importance is that we ensure we are on a learning continuum all the time. How do we learn mostly in our lives? We learn from our mistakes, isnt it? Mistake remains a mistake only if we fail to learn from it! Real leaders make many, many mistakes, but they do not repeat them, they learn from them, they remain enthusiastic, they remain determined to achieve their goal. Actual champions are those who in every situation are focussed on their goal, they make goals, and losers make excuses. Our life is what we make of it!
When we learn from our mistakes or our failure, we become stronger, we develop greater integrity. In the vedic texts, there is description of three types of persons in performing their duties : the first one is called a ‘kanishta’, a person who does not begin any endeavor, fearful that he may fail; the second person is one who endeavors, but turns back when obstacles and failures comes on his path & he is called a ‘madyam’; and the third one is the ‘uttam’, the first class man who keeps his mind fixed on the goal, and does not turn back till he achieves it.
So, next time you are in the face of a big stumbling block or think you are heading towards failure, take heed, just know that in that failure is the seed of success and put on the garb of the ‘uttam’ i,e mind fixed on the goal.
In today’s fiercely competitive scenario, there is also a tendency to rate our success in relative terms that of others. These kinds of comparative thought processes are not only burdensome and pull you down but also have the potency to drive you away from your desired goal. The Bhagavad Gita 18th chapter describes how you can achieving your goals in the most positive manner. It says people who perform work that causes violence and pain to others are working in mode of ignorance. Such people perform their work disregarding spiritual injunctions & this kind of work will have negative bearing on the performer in the long term. Second set of people work in the mode of passion. They endeavor very hard for selfish reasons and for reasons of self-enjoyment, don’t give up easily. However, they have to bear the consequences of such work. The Bhagavad Gita recommends the third set of people who work in the mode of goodness. Such people endeavor without being discouraged or over elated by either success or failure because they are free from dualities. They work for the good of people in general and when such people succeed in fulfilling their mission, they have the most positive bearing for themselves and for others. Such people represent true builders of the society.
Ultimately, according to the Gita, the real success of life is if we can remember God at the time of death. Death is the final exam. We may succeed in so many of the temporal endeavors of this world but we should be very careful to make sure that our human life is a success and not a failure. If we not God conscious at the time of death our human life has failed. Radhanath Swami gives the formula for success–’Have your spiritual goals and orchestrate all your duties and your material obligations in harmony with that spiritual goal and you will be successful’.