Why does the thrill of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling?
Unless our children discover their wings, they will never know the purpose of their lives.
They need to feel the air beneath their wings.
The right to fail has to be the fundamental right of all. It is the essence of creativity. The creative act must be uninhibited and there can be no fear of failure – nothing inhibits so fiercely, or pulls a dream to earth so swiftly as the fear of failure. Why is it as parents we wish to control the lives of our kids as though we own them? We need them to pursue careers we think suits them best, and when they are hurt we say “we’re hurting you for your own good”. I’m all for them to choose their own options in life, no matter their pursuits do not meet my expectations. I would prefer the kind of failure they experience if only it is to guide their next step. Anyone who leaves education midstream is branded a failure – and the right to fail is one of the few freedoms, this country does not grant its citizens. What I don’t like is that we treat failure almost as a condemnation. We need dissenters and dreamers far more than we need politicians and bureaucrats if we are to succeed as a nation. But we paralyze them by insisting that every step in life be a step up the ladder. Yet in the formative years of youth, the only way for our kids to define their way is by digressing from the beaten path, getting lost and finding their way again. We need to encourage them to take the path never walked before, for that is what will make all the difference in their lives. Let them trample on the leaves of yester years, and venture on a new path – “Don’t” is what we always shout back. What they should be told instead is “do not be afraid” of losing your way. Failure isn’t fatal. Success isn’t final. History is strewn with successful failures who have followed their own trail, not worrying about the twists and turns, only because they had faith in their own sense of direction. It is exciting to read of their tryst with destiny not because they beat the system, but because the system they created was better than the one they beat. I am not asking you to go out and fail for the sheer joy of failing. I only mean that failure isn’t bad in itself as success isn’t always as good. I don’t feel any obligation to be successful. Success can be dangerous—–you feel you know it all. I’ve learnt a great deal from my failures. It isn’t the end of the world. It’s the only way to grow. Today’s generation seems to know this is true and are willing to take the risks. Society still sets the rules and condemns failure.
Who then is to say what is right or wrong. No one has the answer of what is right, and the dawning awareness of this fact is one of the best things happening today. Success and failure are becoming individual visions and not rigid categories. Maybe we are learning to cherish this right of every person to succeed on his own terms and fail as often as necessary along the way. As a youngster, one of the things I learned early on was that winning and losing was a natural part of any game I played, be it football or cards. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Nobody likes to lose, but as I have written, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you have tried your best, and still failed. I have more respect for the person who valiantly tried and lost, as opposed to the person who won by cheating. Failure is a natural part of life and an inherent part of evolution. It is a strong message telling us that what we are doing is not working, and we can either learn from it and change our ways or ignore it and perish. It’s nice to have a safety net, but where would we be if nobody took a risk? Without failure, life stagnates. We cannot make progress if we are not allowed to fail. Entrepreneurs, adventurers, and other personalities understand in any venture there is a certain element of risk, whereby they will either reap the rewards of success, or taste the agony of defeat. They weigh the risks carefully, and then work overtime to assure success, but they clearly understand there is no such thing as a guarantee for success. There are people today who want to eliminate our right to fail, that nobody should experience the pain or embarrassment of defeat. Like it or not, failure is the only real catalyst to invoke true changes. Nothing is more powerful to truly change someone, than failure; ask anyone who has experienced it. Nobody likes to take their medicine, but I’m afraid it is time to pass the medicine around. I don’t expect a lot of people to jump on the bandwagon, but it’s time to “Protect our right to fail!”