Seven effective leadership traits as per Valmiki are
उत्साहः पौरुषं सत्त्वमानृशंस्यं कृतज्ञता।
विक्रमश्च प्रभावश्च सन्ति वानर राघवे।।
Valmiki Ramayan 5.37.13।।
These are the traits of Lord Ram as described by Sita Maa to Hanuman when Hanuman met her in Ashoka Van. We are now in second trait POURUSHAM ie manliness / fearlessness.
Fear of failure is the worst stumbling block for growth. Lord Krishna gives a very interesting and easy tip to overcome Fear Of Failure.
You will either be slain in the battlefield and go to the celestial abodes (as a shatriya dying in battlefield), or you will gain victory and enjoy the kingdom. Therefore, arise with determination, O son of Kunti, and be prepared to fight with determination. Bhagavad Gita 2.37
Swargam and kingdom are used as metaphors here. This is a very valuable indirect message from Lord Krishna. Any work started with a niggling doubt about the possibility of failure is bound to fail. Start any initiative with a strong determination and conviction that the initiative will succeed and it is bound to succeed.
Is it possible that every effort will succeed? How can we be sure of success for all the initiatives? How is it possible to be confident of success in all the initiatives? Lord Krishna suggests a very easy solution for this. Start any initiative with the thinking ‘I will succeed to realize the intended benefits or learn to succeed in the next attempt’. Antonym of success is ‘Learning to succeed in the next attempt’.
Every failure, every loss is a learning opportunity. Giving up is a sin. Life is one big adventure, and nobody can guarantee success all the time. Taking responsibility for one’s life, living up to one’s potential and extending the envelope of experiences is the way to earn good Karma – just sitting by the side lines, doing nothing, refusing to take any responsibility is a sure shot way to incur sin.
Sin is in not discharging ordained responsibility for the ‘fear of failure’ as well as in ‘giving up in failure’.
Would this mean blindly jumping to an initiative without analysing the ‘probability of failure’. Not at all. Any action can be taken only if there is ‘Realizable Benefit’ from the action which depends on ‘probability of success (or failure)’ and ‘benefits on success’ and ‘consequence of failure’. But once a decision is taken to ‘take the plunge’, there is no place for thinking about ‘probability of failure’.
This attitude helps in taking up failures in right perspective. Criticize yourself for not taking up required actions but never demean yourself for the failures. Celebrate failures for the learning it gives.
Bid for new projects with the strong belief that you get the project if you win and the time and money spent is an useful learning for the next bid if you end up not winning the project. I follow this principle religiously and I benefit immensely from this.
‘I will either Succeed or Will Learn to Succeed Later nevertheless will try with determination.
Never worry about succeeding later because success can come any time. There is no time or age limit for success. Let us see some case studies:
Alan Rickman’s first movie role came at 46; Ray Kroc joined the McDonald’s franchise at 53; Nelson Mandela emerged after 27 years in jail and became his country’s president at 76. There’s Julia Child, who was 50 when she hosted her first TV show.
Colonel Harland Sanders was 65 when he began franchising his chicken business using his $105 monthly Social Security check. Today, Kentucky Fried Chicken operates more than 5,200 restaurants in the United States and more than 15,000 units around the world.
Why not start with a wish to succeed?
Now go back to all those memories when you wanted to take up some new opportunity and you didn’t, because you feared that you may not succeed. Or the time when you took the opportunity but put so much pressure on yourself wanting to succeed creating immense stress or the time when you didn’t succeed and felt like a loser, demotivated and full of self-doubt.
Learning is a continuous process, something you can look forward to and take that new learning to new opportunities. Knowing that, you will either succeed or you will learn is a very positive and stress free proposition.
Life is very beautiful. You are getting more powerful by adding on a wealth of experiences with each opportunity.
” I never lose. I either win or I learn ”
– Nelson Mandela
When you take “failure“ out of your dictionary, You are also removing one big thought. FEAR. Both are F…. words.
सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि ||
— Bhagavad Gita 2.38||
Fight for the sake of duty, treating alike happiness and distress, loss and gain, victory and defeat. Fulfilling your responsibility in this way, you will never incur sin.
Three pairs of antonyms are there in this sloka. Sukha-dukha, labha-alabha, jaya-ajaya ie happiness and distress, gain and loss & victory and defeat. What does Lord Krishna ask us to do with these? Simple. Treat success and victory alike. Treat happy moments and distress times the same. Treat gain and loss in the same way.
Is it possible? How do we get that maturity to treat success and failure the same way? Why is it important to treat success and failure alike?
“A step towards success is not necessarily a step away from failure. Taking a step towards failure is taking a step closer to eventual success”.
Success is not possible if you don’t act. Agreed. But neither ‘failure’ is possible if you don’t act. It is called ‘Failure’ only when you act, and you don’t end up with what you wanted to get. Otherwise, it is not ‘failure’ but ‘inaction’.
That is why Lord Krishna says, ‘Act anyway, as action is most important, Success or Failure, loss or gain is less important. Not acting for the fear of failure is a sin’.
Life is a continuous journey. Some might sprint every day, some might walk for most of the days, but you must KEEP MOVING. You cannot stop the journey.
There is no guarantee for success but there is no guarantee for failure as well. If you decide to fight only when there is a guarantee for success, you can never fight in life. On the contrary, if you decide to fight only when there is no guarantee for failure, you can never fight again. YOU NEED TO TAKE RISKS.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
To “begin with the end in mind” is the second of the seven habits that author Dr. Stephen R. Covey addressed in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. But Lord Krishna in the above sloka seem to be conveying a different thought. Lord Krishna advises us not to fight for the glory of success and at the same time not to avoid fight for the fear of failure but fight just for the sake of fulfilling your responsibility.
Why would you not start a fight for the glory of succeeding in the fight? Does it sound paradoxical?
Because that will give you the equanimity to face and recover from possible failure. ‘Beginning with the goal of succeeding’ adds stress to the equation which could eventually become a dampener.
When does Failure become Success?
End result is different, but the process is the same for success as well as failure. Failure will become success eventually when there is Belief, Perseverance, Confidence, Grit.
Failure is a guarantee only when there is no ACTION or when the ACTION is not qualified with Belief, Perseverance, Confidence and Grit.
Life is a journey. You may get what you wanted, aka success, at times or you may end up short at times. Read stories of highly successful people. They would have faced failures, for sure. Path to success for ISRO is studded with occasions when rockets plunged to the ‘Bay of Bengal’. Secret to success is in incorporating the learnings in the preparation for the next launch.
For those people who come up short – the adventure, the learning, the growth, the experience are the gains. They will always have a story to share.
People who miss out are those who aren’t willing to take a
risk or just get caught up in the routines. Lord Krishna calls them sinners.
Treat Every success as a failure & every failure as a success
Does it sound too confusing and too eccentric?
It is easier to define why should every failure be treated as a success. Because failures give us more opportunities TO LEARN than success. Because failures are steppingstones for success. But why would you treat every success as a failure? There are many reasons.
We must be deliberate in our quest to acquire lessons from successes, so they are proportionate to our lessons from failures.
Treat your successes like failures – become reflective in your thinking immediately after you succeed. Force yourself to be hyper-critical of the entire process and ask questions to zero in on the lessons.
Footnote – ‘To Celebrate’ is an important aspect of a success. Lord Krishna has never advised against celebrations. Celebrate every success. Don’t have to be ashamed of celebrating a success. Maybe, the wisdom to treat success and failure alike can lead to ‘celebrating failures as well’.
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