Do The Failures Count?

What is failure or success? Those two terms are very relative, to begin with. When I use the term failure, I mean all those who invested their maximum effort and energy in attaining their dreams but just could not make it

Do The Failures Count?

History never remembers those who failed, at least not like it does those who succeeded, because nothing succeeds like success (Edison was a failure till he succeeded). This is a pill that each one of us is made to swallow at very early stages of life, and it shapes our worldview. But the movie "12th Fail" (having recently been released on Netflix) makes us realise that success eventually comes to those who work hard and display what Angela Duckworth calls: "grit." 

However, for every person who makes it, there are scores of others who don't. We never hear their story because, as a society, we are only concerned with a positive end result. People only want to listen to success stories, which is why I personally have never heard of a failure writing a story. And why should they? Why would anyone want to hear their story in an era when people only want to hear stories where the end result is a resounding victory?

Life, however, is quite different from the stories of success that we are used to reading in books or watching in movies; it is a mixed bag. We all have our share of successes and failures. We learn much from both, but more so from failure. The Bollywood film recounts the story of a boy from a small village who eventually becomes an officer in the Indian Police Service. However, the film recounts all the struggles he has to go through and the hardships he has to endure. But by the end, we learn he deserves it more than anyone else. He represents all those villagers from economically deprived households who hope to crawl out of poverty by joining the civil services.

Coming back to the question of successful stories, if JK Rowling had not emerged as a massive success, would we still be interested in her story? Had Harry Potter not seen the light of day, would the world have missed something tectonic? 

Success is an important factor in stories that interest us, but the journey to success can often matter much more. The struggle you undergo makes you value what you have all the more because we all know that they do not appreciate or value whatever human beings are given on a platter. This is why inherited wealth sometimes is more of a curse than a blessing, as it kills the drive and hunger to succeed. For people who use it wisely, it gives them a head start in life.

The struggle for success is a lot about will, determination and hard work, but there can also be an element of luck attached. Sometimes, those who fail do so simply because they were not at the right place at the right time or, even if they were, failed to turn that benefit into a lucrative opportunity. Society is littered with examples of people who have what is often referred to as the Midas touch, and everything they touch turns to gold. How does it turn into gold? Talent combined with perseverance and hard work. All the odds are stacked against them, but one by one, all of those odds are overcome, and each victory brings them closer to their destination.

Life can be the best school, especially for those who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths

Success stories like JK Rowling reaffirm our faith in the power of hard work and determination to deliver success.

Unfortunately, from an early age, we are taught that academic success means bringing home nothing less than an A*. Academic achievements are important, but rather than encouraging us to do our best, students are taught to chase grades. However, we see that academic excellence does not always translate into professional success. Take the examples of Richard Branson, Elon Musk or Bill Gates, none of whom were academically gifted. They were probably deemed as failures by society because they failed to excel in academics. In fact, Richard Branson struggled with dyslexia and was not a high achiever by any stretch of the conventional imagination.

Life can be the best school, especially for those who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths. When there is nothing to lose, it gives you a strange sense of freedom. Not having to live up to humongous expectations also has its benefits. When you have nothing, you can lose nothing, and when people do not expect anything from you, whatever you achieve is commendable. 

Surprise packages like Manoj Kumar Sharma, the IPS officer on whose life "12th Fail" was created, stand out amongst the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) toppers in India. A third divisioner from a small village in India competed with those who had had a head start in life. His struggle, therefore, is all the more laudable and teaches him more than any classroom. As said earlier, he represents all those who journey to New Delhi with dreams of acing the civil services exams, but very few see that dream materialise. He is driven by a bigger goal, the betterment of his country, rather than the financial benefits he can reap individually from joining the Indian civil services. As a society, we must start listening to all those stories buried by time under what we perceived conventionally as failure.

What is failure or success? Those two terms are very relative, to begin with. When I use the term failure, I mean all those who invested their maximum effort and energy in attaining their dreams but just could not make it, and now they must restart their life. Or, if the maximum number of opportunities had been availed, they had to give up on their dreams and start afresh. But what you see as years wasted because a desired goal was not attained has probably taught you the most valuable life lesson you can now utilise in another profession. This is where resilience comes in. You have to bounce back, and as I said earlier, restart! That is something very hard to do, but it has to be done!
Look ahead in life and never stop trying. Those who truly failed are those who never tried. But if you did and you were not "successful", that cannot be deemed as failure. Life has to keep moving, and while attaining success is good, it is not meant for everyone. Maybe that is God's way of redirecting you to another path where your true strength lies. When you love what you do, it no longer feels like a chore, so keep exploring new avenues and forging fresh paths for yourself.

The writer is an educationist and can be reached at She blogs at