Fail, To Succeed!

· Happiness, Human Resources, Reflections

Fail, To Succeed!

NS Rajan

It’s amazing. How often do you see that on the hint of failure, fears take charge of the heart. On the other hand success and even the prospect of it eggs man to stretch that bit more and willingly so. Life is a two- sided coin and as one tosses around it’s indeed perplexing at times to make the head or tail of it. I am still trying to find out which is easier to live with; Failure or Success. 

          May you live all the days of your life. ‘Swift are the currents but so is the thrill of taking things as they come. One must have the courage to live. After all anyone can die! Is it not true that if one has to choose the option among ‘success following failure’ and ‘failure after success’ the answer is obvious. Hobson’s choice indeed! Why does failure evoke such trepidation in our hearts? I have yet to see anyone whose life is so unexciting as to have had only success. Neither does failure have capacity to persevere. If only one has the resilience to seek the silver lining behind the dark gloomy clouds that so easily block our perspective, Failure is bound to fail. 

          The concept of success takes varying forms depending on the individual’s frame of reference. Invariably, for the majority, success is viewed from the perspective of what the world outside colors it to be. There lies the pitfall. Man forever reaches out to grow and thrive. What he misses out is that behind every success there are a series of failure steps which you surmount. Once a person succeeds, he gets trapped by the prospect of imminent failure that might be lurking at the bend. Meandering through life as it comes one keeps searching for the illusory permanence of continued success. There isn’t one if the barometer to judge the state lies outside oneself.

As is true with most men who have tasted success, it is public opinion be it family, friends, press and detractors that is the mirror. The hours and years of mental makeup, facing of struggles with fortitude, never letting go despite setbacks in plenty; the very process of failure that propel you towards ultimate success never seems to deserve sufficient mention. 

          Let us reflect on the life of Abraham Lincoln from the annals of history. Failure, during most of his early life, was his constant companion; a shadow that would never desert him. What is remarkable about Lincoln is the ability to pursue, persevere and even persuade oneself to push ahead in the direction envisioned as one’s own purpose of life. To most of the cynical observers of his early struggles he was inevitably on the road to failure. Lincoln’s life, spanning three decades, is a revelation. 

Abraham Lincoln failed in business ( at the age of 22)

Defeated as he tried for Legislature ( 23)

Failed in business the second time (24)

Suffered from severe nervous breakdown (27)

Defeated for Speaker (29)

Failed to become Elector (31)

Failed in his bid for Congress (34)

Defeated for Congress, yet again (39)

Failed to become Senator (46)

Lost as he stood for Vice Presidentship (47)

Defeated for Senate (49)

Elected President of the United States, served from 1861(51)


             What leads men through the ‘furnace of adversity’; is it the ability to demand much from oneself and little from others. Confucious, perhaps, sums it up: Nobility of character is pre-eminent over nobility of birth.  Forbearance, fortitude, and faith in oneself are a uniquely powerful synergistic catalyst.  As life unravels itself, the caterpillar of failure can turn into the butterfly of success. 

              Success, paradoxically, unsettles me. It imposes a burden akin to that of Sisyphus. Having reached the pinnacle, where would life lead from there? One must take guard, all over again for a fresh innings. Unless one relishes the struggle, the travel towards a destination, the state of becoming where you have an ideal to attain, reaching is more like the end to being. The spirit of resilience can make all the difference. ‘The struggle to the top alone will make a human heart swell’ reflected Camus. The mind of a ‘man’ often gets best revealed in his expressions, and I recall the eloquent thought shared by Lincoln himself at the Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865 ;With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.”True conquest of both success and failure is that state of being where you ‘live’ life with humane values and in quest of one’s very purpose of existence: Ever Onwards!

( The Phoenix_Arizona: On my first visit to Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona, I came across the mythical fire bird known to have emerged from the ashes, adorning a wall. The Phoenix stands for rebirth, renewal and revival. For me it is a metaphor that constantly reminds me that the easiest thing to do, perhaps, is to give up. Fulfillment awaits one who has the ability to never buckle down to adversity, and hope that all of us have the innate capacity to rise and shine, however severe the fall)


Comments RSS
  1. srini

    the picture says it all. Wonderful flow

  2. SV Nathan

    Baps, this is indeed true. The wisest teacher is experience. The toughest is failure. The kindest is success. We dread the worst and fear defeat. Sometimes, i feel that I fail to learn if i dont learn to fail. Failure to me is personal, stays a moment and flits away. What stays is the loss of self esteem and an ego that makes things difficult to accept. Bereft of ego, learning is easy.

    thanks for sharing. keep going machan, it is a tough ask…this business of putting pen to paper, and hands to keys on the computer !!

    Brilliant piece,


    • nsrajan1111

      Thanks a ton, Nathan…I also love the comments you posted 😀

  3. Partha

    Very good example of Lincoln to elaborate “Faliure itself has to fail someday just stay there and do whatever needs to be done” . Keep such write-ups coming.


    • nsrajan1111

      Thanks Partha for your visit and comments 🙂

  4. KK

    Baps, you hit it. Glad to see your blog going well.

    Blindfolds and handcuffs often come with success. It is easy to be lulled into complacency by the euphoria of success. But failure is the greatest guru – the mentor who runs free classes ! Never repent for knocking on his doors! Behind the doors lie the equipment, the experience and the learnings of prophets. Without this guru’s lessons, the highest mountains cannot be scaled, the unknown oceans cannot be sailed !

    KK, Sydney

    • nsrajan1111

      Hello KK…glad you visited and thanks for your comments relevant..:)

  5. Jaideep

    Excellent eye-opener……..particularly through Lincoln’s example………..These lines will have a everlasting effect on me – “What he misses out is that behind every success there are a series of failure steps which you surmount. Once a person succeeds, he gets trapped by the prospect of imminent failure that might be lurking at the bend. Meandering through life as it comes one keeps searching for the illusory permanence of continued success”


    • nsrajan1111

      Thanks Jaideep..appreciate your sentiments 🙂

  6. KK

    Baps – this is from a really old song, Mera Naam Joker.. some philosophical lines on failure sung by the hero ( a circus Joker.. who else but the Charlie Chaplin of Bollywood – late Raj Kapoor !)

    : Girne se dartha hai kyoon ?
    Marne se dartha hai kyoon ?
    Thokar tu jab tak na khayega
    Paas kisi ghum ko na jab tak bulayega
    Zindagi hai cheez kya nahin jaan payega
    Rota hua aaya hai….
    Rota chala jayega !


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