The Lessons of Failure
The most brilliant kind of success is achieved by those who are able to analyse the causes of their failure and defeat and derive the utmost benefit from them. Examining the causes of a failure by itself leads one to identify one's difficulties as well as their solution. It opens up in front of one a hopeful and dynamic perspective in which the path to victory is clearly visible. In this way, one can employ one's reserves of thought and energy and alter the whole situation in a radical manner.
The best of one's efforts become manifest when one encounters an obstacle or defeat in the pursuit of his aspirations. There are many individuals who do not discover themselves until they have lost everything.
Those who have inner substance do not give up their perseverance unless they have extracted the elements of greatness from the depths of hardship and defeat and who do not abandon their efforts until they are triumphant. Every work that they begin is marked with vigour and energy and their great personal qualities are cast in the very heat of failure.
It is a mistake to be embarrassed by one's defeat. Obstacles are like thorns that usually grow on the path of men of action. A total bankruptcy occurs only when one takes the failure to make a headway in some task as a permanent defeat and loses all his confidence. The feeling of personal inadequacy and weakness may bring a person to a standstill and keep him from every kind of effort to make amends for his defeat and frustration.
One of the first urges that manifests itself in a human being is the desire to win and dominate. But if he should always stick to his ordinary routine the will to struggle and endeavour becomes extinguished in his spirit.
It is possible that some precious talents may lie dormant within a person that develop and shine solely as a result of the abrasion of adversity which gives them their burnish. In reality, most people remain unaware of their inner talents and gifts due to the absence of encounter with obstacles and defeats. As a result, they do not become aware of the power that lies latent in the depths of their being.
Dale Carnegie writes:
About twenty-five years ago one day a school teacher forcefully slapped a boy twice in the face for being restless in the class and for constantly chattering and jolting on his bench. The teacher slapped him in front of the pupils and so humiliated him that the poor child went home sobbing. At that time he was no more than five years, but at that tender age he concluded that the way he had been treated was absolutely unjust and unfair. From that moment he came to have a strong feeling of hatred and repulsion for injustice against which he struggled until the end of his life.
His name was Clarence Darrow and perhaps he was the foremost lawyer and undoubtedly the greatest criminal lawyer of his era. Countless times his name and renown occupied the first pages of American newspapers. Even now the elderly people of Ashtabula in the United States talk about his first trial and the first case that was referred to him. He raised a great clamour over the case although the dispute related to a number of horse bridles all together worth merely five dollars. When asked why he had raised such an uproar over a few horse bridles, he replied: "The main thing is the defence of truth, not the worth of something for which the trial is held." He displayed such vigour and courage in the coarse of his trials and fought in such a manner as if he were facing a tiger of Bengal and was forced to defend himself. A defendant who had chosen him to fight the case had paid him a fee of five dollars, but since the case was not settled he took it to seven courts at his own expense, pursuing it diligently for seven years until he was triumphant in the end. Darrow used to say that he never accepted a case for money or personal prestige. 2
All the remarkable accomplishments and the invaluable services rendered to human society, which are today regarded as ordinary means of life, were in the beginning considered impossible by most people. In the past if someone were bold enough to regard them as possible, he would have been considered a fool and ridiculed even in scientific circles. Today, with all their value, people have forgotten their significance and they do not amaze any onlooker.
But all these inventions and techniques were not discovered by men of action in a short period. They were products of years of painful effort and toil. In some cases, with utmost patience, they devoted their entire lives to the solution of difficult and complex problems. It was with the untiring efforts of those men of determination that these things entered the world of reality and put on the garment of existence. Emerson says:
Those who have been successful have all been in agreement over the fact that there is a certain connection between cause and effect. In other words, they believed that in the sphere of life events do not take place by chance and fortuity; rather everything is subject to a law. There is no missing or feeble link between the first and the last links of the chain. 3
2. Dale Carnegie, Ramz e muwaffaqiyat dar zindagi, p. 35
3. Ralph Waldo, Raz e Khushbakhti, p. 23
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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