What Failure Has Taught Me In Life

Do you know that Edison made 10,000 attempts until he could finally create the light bulb? And remember a few years back, mostly in primary school, pupils were asked to repeat a class if they underperformed? Teachers understood that failure was part of the learning process and the more you tried the better student you became. Though some of the teachers tried to convince us that success was an expected norm. It’s not. Success is a rare gem that comes after repeated failures.

When I sat for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Exams, I was so confident that I was going to get at least an A- in Geography. I thought I knew all the answers to the questions. When the results came out, Geography was the poorly performed subject. It taught me something. Failure was a reminder to me that I didn’t know everything. Sometimes the process of gaining humility is, well, humiliation.

People love success stories, but freak out at the prospect of failure. The simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure.

I love attending #FailUp events organized by techsahara, a Kenyan tech company based at the Nailab. Many great entrepreneurs have been featured in the forum including Peter Nduati of Resolution Health Insurance, Erick Kinoti, Jua Kali, Chef Daniel and Akosua Dadaine among others. These are the kind of forums that have taught me to recognize and appreciate that there are areas in our lives we have mastered, areas we are developing, and areas where we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

But the big question is how you respond to failure right after it takes place. In fact, research shows the key response to know if a person or organization’s failure will lead to further tragedy or turn to success is simply this: do they own the failure?

I happened to have gone through business incubation and for those who understand the environment, several businesses, startups to be precise, work from the same space. I have witnessed startups fail miserably and close down. In the event of failure, some managed to pick up the pieces and piece them back , others would start completely new and different ventures while others would die completely.

I observed as all these unfolded because I was aware that I could easily fall into any of the scenarios especially the latter if I went through a rocky phase. But I observed and learned a lot that has helped me keep my business afloat.

This is what failure has taught me;

  1. It taught me to try many avenues before giving up on reaching a goal because usually, there is more than one way to get there.
  2. Failure taught me that success — real success — rarely comes in the form of a “big break”. More often than not it comes after months, even years, of hard work.
  3. It taught me not to trust everyone who says they are out to help me. It taught me to trust that gut feeling, the intuitive sense inside me.
  4. I learned that life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you’re going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you.

It’s important to remember that setbacks, failures, and tragedy are a part of life. There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.

And hard times are good in their own way, too. Because the only way you can achieve true happiness is if you experience true sadness as well. It’s all about light and shade. Balance.




About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.

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