On the Failure of Success

The F-word that we must all not avoid or feel embarrassed to confront does not have four letters. It has 7! It is FAILURE.

Fear of Failure prevents us from doing things that we love doing. We have been brought up, groomed, conditioned, to believe that Failure is bad and Success is good. And Failure is dubbed as coming last in class, not having enough money, losing in love or not being famous. Truth however is that Failure is inevitable. Not every effort will produce the result we expect. And yet we must plough on. Living each moment in full. Not be swayed by joy or depressed by sorrow! Because, even what we call Success, will, at times, fail us.

Here’s a short story that illustrates the point. The Sumeru mountain, accepted in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is believed to exist in heaven. The significance of the mountain is that any great emperor who has conquered the whole world, when he dies, signs his name on the Sumeru mountain for his incredible achievements. One great Emperor, after his death, reached the gates of heaven, with his wives, who had also given up their lives on his pyre, as was the custom in those days. At the gate, the gatekeeper obstructed his wives from entering in order to accompany the King to sign his name.

The King was upset: “How can you not let my wives in to witness me signing on the mountain?”

The gatekeeper laughed and said, “O King, I have been the gatekeeper for generations and my ancestors were all gatekeepers here. I have said the same thing, that I’ve told you, to all those who have come here before you. You will actually be thankful. However if you still insist , you may go ahead with your wish!”

The King felt that the gatekeeper would know better and hence went alone to sign on the Sumeru. To his amazement, contrary to his belief that he was one among the few to sign on the Sumeru, the king found thousands of signatures on it, with hardly any space to fit his own signature. He immediately felt grateful towards the gatekeeper – for if his wives had seen what he was seeing just now, they would have lost all interest in him. For he was now not a great emperor but just another ‘also ran’!

He said in a tone of disappointment, “I always thought that I would be the only one to sign on the Sumeru mountain, but there are thousands of others who have signed before me. Where shall I sign now? I feel humiliated!”

The gatekeeper said, “There is an option. You can erase one of the names and have yours in its place!”

The King said, “What is the point, then one day somebody will erase my name and will have his name on it.”

“That is most likely to happen, but it’s up to you!” said the gatekeeper.

This is the inevitable Failure of Success! So, let us not chase Success and abhor Failure. Let us appreciate and understand that even Success fails us when we reach the metaphorical Sumeru. Live each moment, learning from it – even if you fail at achieving what you wanted to. That learning – from trying, falling and failing – is more valuable than grieving the inability to achieve a goal or gloating over at having got it!

Author: AVIS Viswanathan

the happynesswala - Inspired Speaker, Life Coach and Author of "Fall Like A Rose Petal"; Inspiring 'Happyness'!

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