Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Importance of Failure

I know, no one likes to fail. I sure don't.

But failure is inevitable. If you have always succeeded so far, then you are either very lucky, or never done anything interesting and challenging.

Today, I was in a class: Introduction to Android Programming. Was quite new for me, since I have never done any client side work, so I was very excited. We all had laptops which were supposed to be pre-loaded with the environment we needed for development. We started with our first exercise, everything worked well for 2 people, and failed miserably for the rest. The errors were new for the instructor too. We all collectively tried to figure out what it was, googled the error, re-installed everything, got a new version...lots of different things were explored before we finally figured it all out.

It was frustrating, but in the end I thought it was interesting and quite rewarding. We found out a lot about the different things that need to be configured, all the options available, etc. We would not have if things had worked smoothly the first time.

Learnt two things from this:
1) Failures are useful, they are a good learning experience
2) Helping others in trouble helps us too. The two people who had everything running smoothly could easily have taken a coffee break, or jumped on their facebooks. But they helped. And they learnt!

In this example, failure was eventually corrected, and we reached our goal. This does not always happen. Some failures are minor, you can laugh about it, others are not...failing major exams, failing to get a good job, failing in a relationship. These hurt. Bad. But they also teach a very important lesson. You question why they had to happen. What's the purpose of it all? There is a big purpose. Teaching us to move on. Teaching us to be tough, to be brave and confident.

What do we do when we have such big failures?
Pick up the pieces. Pick up the pieces and make something out of what is left. There will be a lot of hard knocks in life, lots more pieces to gather and move on. But these pieces put together will make a beautiful mosaic of a life well lived. A flawless, uncracked piece of glass is hardly as interesting, right?

Life is beautiful, live it well. Taking failures in stride and making the best out of them is the biggest success you will ever have!