Someone wise once said: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” These words make it evident that success and failure are intertwined and one isn’t exclusive of the other. No wonder, it is widely accepted that failure is the stepping stone to success. From early on in life, people aspire to succeed—be it in high school, at college, at work, or in the various roles they play in their personal lives as parents, spouses, friends or grandparents. However, while you are dreaming big and making plans, life happens.
That life is riddled with challenges, setbacks, and failures, your dream world comes crashing before your eyes like a house of cards. When the anxiety and the burden of repeated failures become too heavy to bear, people begin to crumble under the pressure of expectations. That’s when many lose sight of wisdom and consider themselves failures instead of objectively looking at the event or incident as something that didn’t work. As has been the case with VG Siddhartha, founder of India’s largest coffee chain Café Coffee Day. A perfect gentleman, a kindred and virtuous soul, who was revered and loved by everyone, seems to have crumbled under financial pressure. In what is reportedly being considered his last letter to his employees, he talks about how he succumbed to pressure from multiple sources and writes, “I have failed as an entrepreneur.” However, those who knew him well as an entrepreneur vouch that he wasn’t a failure.
There are numerous stories of people who repeatedly failed in their endeavours, yet they refused to give up, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Those are the people who are a source of inspiration for anyone who dares to dream big. In this feature, Soulveda brings the stories of nine such individuals who did not consider failure as the end of the road but took it head-on as the beginning of a meaningful journey of learning.
Jack Ma: Failure is the stepping stone to success
Jack Ma failed a ‘million’ times before becoming a billionaire, and one of the richest people in China. Co-founder and former CEO of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma failed at almost everything he pursued—from education to career to entrepreneurship. He failed his primary school examinations twice, the middle school exams thrice, got into Hangzhou Normal University in his third attempt, all his ten admission letters to Harvard University were rejected, he failed to land any job after graduating from the university, and his first two ventures collapsed. In an interview, at the Davos World Economic Forum, he said, “When KFC came to China, 24 people went for the job. Twenty-three people were accepted. I was the only guy who wasn’t.” However, that did not deter him from visualising and founding Alibaba. The rest, as they say, is history.
Stephen King: Do the best you can with what you’ve got
Stephen King is widely known for his books that have dominated the horror genre for the past four decades. The only author in history with over 30 bestsellers, King faced countless rejections from publishers and backlash from critics at the outset of his journey. His first novel, Carrie was rejected 30 times before it was finally published. In 1994, when his short story The man in the black suit won the prestigious O’Henry Award, Publishers Weekly declared it to be “one of the weaker stories in this year’s collection.” In response to his critics, who often criticised his work, King said in an interview on 60 Minutes, “All I can say is—and this is in response to the critics who’ve often said that my work is awkward and sometimes a little bit painful—I know it. I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.”
“You never fail until you stop trying.” ― Albert Einstein
Chris Gardner: The real pursuit of happiness lies in never giving up