Failure: The Only Certainty

July 10, 2014

Fail fast, learn from failure, don’t be afraid, just do it… Some of the feel good phrases that are thrown around in an attempt to push you off the edge of the mountain called Decision Peak. But upon some reflection, one realizes that these are sort of unnecessary because all one needs to take that step towards the unknown through the face of fear of failure is the following realization; Think about it, the only certainty in life is the fact that we are all going to fail one day and you are headed towards that failure at 86,400 seconds per day. When that failure comes, either your body is going to fail to recognize that cell for what it actually is (cancer) or your driver is going to fail to recognize that single light coming from the opposite direction for what it actually is (a truck with one functional headlight) or you are going to fail to realize that the one of your coronary arteries is in the brink of failure and not go to the hospital. Whatever it may be, you WILL fail one day.

This is a fact that instead of being a hindrance to life should instead be the drum that keeps us exploring; keeps us dreaming; keeps us risking for something better. I say this because of two facts that make humans an amazing creation. The first is the fact that even though we don’t want to believe it, we accept failure faster than we realize. Whether it be a failed job interview, a failed business venture or a failed relationship, you will seldom find people clinging on to those failures for years or even months. Think about all the times you were disappointed and ‘failed’ and how you bounced back. What was the time frame? I’m sure you’ll realize that it wasn’t as much as you thought it was. Research conducted by one of the leading behavioral economists from Duke University, Dan Ariely points to the same fact; that people far overestimate how hard some adverse event is going to affect their lives as opposed to how they actually deal with it in reality. People underestimate their ability to adapt to changing circumstances and overestimate how much of an impact a certain event will have on their lives. The second reason we are good at dealing with failure is the fact that we forget. Allah swt calls us ‘Insaan’ whose root word literally means ‘the one who forgets’. We forget. Whether it be a loss of a loved one or a failed career path or business; we forget. It is this quality that helps us go on through the face of adversity in search of a better day; and when that day comes, sure enough, we manage to put the bad times behind us and move forward in a short amount of time. Keeping these two facts in mind, we should move forward with whatever plans we have, provided we have done the appropriate risk analysis and not think of the consequences too much. Because as we have found out over the course of this article, ‘This too shall pass’.


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