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Fear to fail, fail to succeed

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 24 January 2020 00:00

The greatest fear of all is one’s inability to think what has gone right and wrong for them. 

Well, in this competitive and revolutionary world, who will not make mistakes? But many of us believe doing something for the first time or failing to deliver what was promised is inappropriate. For me what is inappropriate, is not doing it at all. 

You may be a leader or an employee, a teacher or a student, a parent or child, a philosopher or a follower – it doesn’t really matter! We all make mistakes in our lives – it is a universal truth. The most important thing is not how it happened, but how we can prevent it from happening it again!

I was born in Sri Lanka, a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, a country that has great history and a collective decision-making culture. In most cultures, for any generation there is one thing common during childhood. Weren’t your parents were very careful and thoughtful of you not making mistakes? 

I can be certain my parents, with the Sri Lankan mindset, wanted me to avoid making mistakes. For example, when I climbed a tree or jumped from a higher place or tried to disassemble an electronic device or played with a remote controller, all that I heard was “don’t!” And this has gone to our DNA unfortunately and unconsciously. 

We challenged our parents or adults when we were kids, but then we followed the same theory as grownups. If you are not able to comprehend what I just said, let me clarify. How many times have we told our children “not to do” something. Well, this is how we unconsciously have inculcated ourselves to follow the same rule – the “don’t”.

I have thought about it a few years ago and realised there is always a way to change it, that is becoming an example, doing things that are not safe or has no guarantee of being successful. 

I invented a product when people around me were not sure whether it could be successful. Guess what? It became a world class product for a top class mobile product company. 

I started five startups when people around me asked me whether I am certain of what I do. Guess what? Three of them were very successfully rolled out while I failed the two in between. 

I moved to Australia when I was nearing my 40s and my best friend once asked me whether I was that brave. Guess what? Although I struggled to establish initially, I later settled with a top job in my own trade. 

When I took up challenges to transform companies, some thought I was crazy to take such risks. Guess what? My efforts paid off and I learnt a lot during the process, things I could have never learnt doing a PhD. Most of those experiences taught me how not to fail than how to become successful.

I followed the same theory with my son, allowed him to experiment. Asked him to invest some money and time on doing things differently – convinced him that it is fine to do things different rather than doing it in the same way. 

One simple example is that I gave him a desktop (used one) when he was 13 years old. Within 24 hours he installed window and Linux, then he managed installing dual operating systems as well. He was able to open the box and add some cards from his old machine and then configure communication ports to get connected to Wi-Fi, remember this is an old AMD Phenom II machine.

He watched videos, read articles and learnt by himself. I realised it was neither the technology nor knowhow that matters; if you want to be an entrepreneur/game changer, it’s all about how much you’re willing to fail!

As parents, leaders, entrepreneurs or innovators we all must eradicate the fear of failing, then learn to never repeat our mistakes. Unlearning is the most difficult habit for humans, we must unlearn “don’t” culture. 

We must embrace the culture of failing for the right purpose, teach all around us the fact that if you do not fail, you will not be successful. This should not be taken out of proportion to say the one who fails the most, is the best. 

Rather to say if you are not ready to fail or fear of being called a failure, you will never experiment – if you never experiment, you will not be successful in your life’s journey!

So my slogan goes – “fear to fail, fail to succeed!”

(The writer is a serial transformer and could be reached via email at anura.dealwis@pyxle.io)

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