What is failure – an obstacle, a warning or a teacher?

We all know that life doesn’t always work out according to expectations. You aim for a goal but you reach it only after a series of twists and turns. The fulfilment of every purpose – whether it is attaining a material object, having someone in your life, meeting that sales target or getting that promotion – comes with its own set of qualifications. When you work towards that and are unsuccessful, you may call this experience “failure.” But this experience teaches you what needs to be learned and also what needs to be unlearned to get there.

Just as you learn cycling after several falls – sometimes in the bush, sometimes bumping into people and sometimes by losing your balance – you are learning the many ways of how not to fall. At the same time, you have to give up the habit of controlling too much. Learnt to trust your instincts and let go. Trust yourself and let the thing run by itself.

Many of you would be aware of the life of Thomas Edison, the prolific American inventor who invented the light bulb after failing a few thousand times in the process. Throughout his career, Edison refused to recognise failure. He famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison was forever an optimist who said that many people who failed did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

There can be no better teacher than failure. Small failures teach you how to face the bigger challenges of life. Facing smaller challenges in the beginning will empower you to deal with the larger issues on the horizon. In a way failure is also a warning about what you should not be doing. It is an obstacle which shows you that you either need to empower yourself more to achieve what you are aspiring for, or take a detour. Failure is also a teacher that makes you learn through small tests and grades.

However, if you look at the larger picture of life, you will find that failure is neither a teacher, nor a warning nor an obstacle. It is a situation complete in itself – for what has to happen, what had happened and what will happen. With complete acceptance of the completeness of the moment, you get the wisdom to traverse the path ahead. This wisdom could mean more empowerment while walking on the same path, or taking a detour towards a new path or simply, a complete acceptance of the moment, as it just is.

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