Week 2: Dealing with Failure

Hey there Abhishek,

This week I delved into the realm of failure, a rarity for us as we have hardly introspected on this aspect of our lives. Most of the times, when faced with failure I have overlooked it and moved on. Here comes a chapter, which wants me to stand still and stare at its face. Here is how we can benefit by understanding this monster.

  1. Remember the good old days when you were in primary school. The pressure for grades was on and you were a razor-sharp beast at getting them. You took the shortest path to the assumed goal (perfect grades). As time flew by, we have both realized that such an approach is not the best one neither sustainable and have mended our ways of doing things with a holistic view, the way of the optimalist. But somewhere inside you still lives that perfectionist who wants to get what he wants, at any cost. Let this message act as a warning for you to keep that beast in control and choosing and optimalist way of doing things consciously.
  2. One of the primary associations that you have with failure is “fear of failure”. This is the elephant in the room. No matter what you want to do, this guy is just sitting there and giving you the same old boring nudge. Interestingly, many people in the class shared the same thought. There were those who felt that failure will lead to inferior judgement from the society and others who felt that their efforts will account to nothing. You have a mix of both in you. Firstly, don’t take yourself so seriously all the time, you are a mere spec in this galaxy. Do you care what other specs think about you, how they judge you? Failure is inevitable, learn from it and hit back harder. You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. Deal with it!
  3. Now to some good news, resilience. This is a big factor in dealing with failure and I think you have demonstrated a fair bit of resilience in your live, not Victor Frankl level but appreciable. Claps! You are good at staying grounded and improvising; but can improve in finding meaning out of tough situations. Make it a learning opportunity, imagine a future utility of your hardship and carry on. Never play the victim card and never back down.

To conclude this letter, look at your own crisis situations. The one where you failed thrice to clear SSB, the one with a dead-end job in Noida, the one with a shady school and dad posted elsewhere; what do all these three have in common. They have served as catalysts for an accelerated spurt of growth. It was only when you lost it, that you rebounded stronger each time, would you be sitting here writing this letter otherwise? This does not mean that you should go out looking for crisis situations but to help you understand that the fear of failure is just not worth it, look at it whichever way you want.


Week 1: Notions of Success

Dear Abhishek,

This week I had a chance to revisit the idea of success, what does it consists of, does it have a singular meaning or does it change from person to person. Below, I summarize my learning on three concepts related to success which I think we can benefit from.

  1. I conventionally though of success as something which makes my family happy, it gave me happiness too. We are on the right track with this one but here is a thought, will simply being happy give you the satisfaction that is heavenly? Research shows that a better approach to success is to hit a range of dimensions including self, family, work and community in the realms of happiness, achievement, significance and legacy. Time is limited, try out activities which hit a lot of these dimensions together and I believe you will see a difference.
  2. Sometimes even after achieving something you may feel empty inside, what causes this? The answer my friend is lack of coherence of your action with your values. I have created a list of values for us and Freedom, Courage and Unity are on the top of it. Yay! The idea is to pursue opportunities where the way to success reinforces these values rather than hurting them. Keep an eye open for a match and have a blast.
  3. I have learned over the years to not compare my situation with someone else. Everyone has a different story and you simply can’t judge people and start comparing. This learning shows that we are correct on this one. One potential way of positive comparison is to delve into the story of the person you see as a success be it your mentors or your peers and find out how did they do it? You can then possibly learn something out of it and apply to your own life.

As a final appeal, get out of the definitions set out by peers, family and society. Listen to your own heart! Make ambitious goals and keep them on a realistic time period and don’t be afraid to fail (we talk about this next week).

Keep rocking!