Failure is wonderful
One of the big reasons people don’t start up is because they fear failure. They fear what others would think of them if markets proved them wrong. They fear finding a job if their venture failed. They fear that no one would ever invest money in their idea. They fear competition. They fear for the basic needs of life that people with real jobs take for granted. In fact, they fear the most absurd. Almost of all of it is in their head and rarely becomes a reality if they were ever to simply get started.
I was recently at an alumni event in Bangalore, the city that’s often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley with a perpetual traffic jam. Nearly every second person I met wanted to start up. These potential entrepreneurs were from illustrious backgrounds – top MBAs, marquee corporate jobs, great lifestyle, money to survive without pay for several months. But that exactly seemed to be the problem. The problem was letting go of all the show-and-tell and starting up with something meaningful that would make it all worth it, if it were to go belly-up.
In reality, failure is wonderful. When you fail it means that you actually tried something that’s hard for you. You pushed boundaries. Maybe the markets or stars didn’t align but that’s okay. Maybe you were naive and inexperienced. But you grew up. You had the nerve to get off that long dark tunnel and be true to your inner calling. The minute you accept this, something changes within you. You become stronger.
Failure in reality is only a concept. Notions of templated success make you choose the tried and tested paths repeatedly. When you rationally examine what failure is, you realize that it’s simply arriving at an outcome different from what you initially expected. And when you probe, you realize that it’s really not such a big deal to arrive at a different outcome. Ideas of failure dissolve and dissipate. In fact, failure takes no meaning at all. In the bay area, there’s even a term for it: fail fast and fail forward.
Things that you don’t start because of fear or inaction remain like a gnawing monkey on your back. Once it’s on there, it never gets off. No one will ever be able to tell you whether your ideas are worth it. But as you know in the recesses of your heart, it’s far better to live a life where you tried bringing them to life than to hit the grave with the monkey still clinging firmly on your back.
(A version of this article was originally published here in The Economic Times)
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