The Opposite of Success is not Failure30th November 2019
In veterinary pathology, we have to do a blood smear from time to time. It is when a drop of blood if placed on a microscopic slide and a special sliding technique using another slide is used to smear the drop to spread the sample across the slide. I remember this technique being the bane of many vets and nurses’ life when we tried to do it. It requires practice, technique, persistence and improving failed attempts.
There are similar situations that I encounter often in daily work like pet owners training recall or ‘heel’ for their dogs, animal handling by assistants for blood sampling or minor procedures and maybe as ‘simple’ as providing great consistent customer care. It is easy not get it right the first time. The way failure is viewed really marks the end result for a person. If it is viewed as terminal or brings about the feeling of inadequacy or any negative feeling at all, it is often those people will give up and accept defeat.
If it is viewed as a learning curve and one can profit from failure, these people tend to succeed. They see failure in a different way. They know that no one gets it right the first time. They are not perfectionists. They understand that if they fall down nine times, as long as they get up ten times, they will still end up standing. You see, the opposite of success is not failure. It is simply not trying.
I remember failing three times in major exams in Vet College, in first year, third year and final year. I remember graduating four months later than everyone (bar a few who joined me!). It does not make me any less of a vet. In fact, I look back at my counterparts now. Some of those who did very well have actually given up vetting due to various reasons and yet, here I am, loving every moment of it.
Success, on the other hand, is actually an extremely poor teacher compared to failure. Consider when you succeed, what do you learn? Maybe that hard work pays off or luck may be involved? You may feel good inside for a bit given a sense of accomplishment or validation that you are worthy of the goal? Either which, the feeling does not really last and it does not really improve you.
However, failure is a fantastic teacher. It teaches us to improve. It teaches us to achieve greater results. It forces us to face the facts that what we felt was good enough actually was not. It teaches us to be humble. It pulls out more from us. It keeps us on the edge, making us uncomfortable (I believe that comfort is the enemy of growth) and in doing so, allows us a chance to grow.
In fact, we should embrace failure as it is a direct step towards success. When we first learn how to ride a bike, we wobble and fall before learning how to keep our balance and cycle. The surest way of not falling is not getting on the bike in the first place. So for someone not to fail simply means that person is not really pushing out of his comfort zone and learning.
Another way to look at it is if we need to fall down say, on average of 50 times, before mastering how to ride a bike. We should get excited about falling down (failing) for it surely means that we are just that one step closer to properly cycling (success). We should understand, accept and remember that success has a price and get busy paying it (by failing).
The difference between someone who succeeds or fails lies in the interpretation of failing. A successful person would view it as temporary defeat and profit from failure by learning from each failed experience. An unsuccessful person would view it as a reflection of his inadequacy and accept that result as permanent.
If you have been trying and have not succeeded, don’t give up. Keep pushing and success will surely follow. You are not alone.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston ChurchillBack to Blog