Failure is the most dreaded thing in the world. What people neglect, however, is that failure, although obviously not a good or pleasant thing in itself; is a fundamental ingredient in future success. Bill Gates has it that, “It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
As the final exams draw nearer for both primary and secondary school candidates, their apprehension and fright is overblown because of their past failures. Some of them feel that because their scores have been extremely poor, their performance will be the same. The fact is that we all fret failure; we try to avoid it, and question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas.
Nevertheless, the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may be one epic failure or a series of failures – such as Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a vacuum cleaner. The issue here is not whether we are failing or not but on what we learn from our failures to influence our next tasks.
Dwelling on one’s past mistakes is the biggest blunder one can ever make. The trouble with most students is that they tend to define their future using their past. They fail to realize that failure is just a temporary detour, not an end. Just because you scored an F in your last biology exam does not mean you will score the same in the next one. However, if you do nothing about the F grade, the results will undoubtedly be the same. Simply put, turn your past failures into success by finding out where you went wrong and correcting yourself.
Perhaps I should also mention that the reason we regard failure with negativity is our fixation in the blame game. Anytime there is failure, we are quick to point fingers instead of defining the failure and correcting it. When we do this, the equilibrium between student responsibility and teacher accountability becomes vague as society is keen to blame teachers for poor academic results, and the teachers in turn, tend to blame students. In promoting the mantra that failure is always someone else’ fault, we deprive our young people of one of the key drivers of change and progress: the realization of failure.
It is pointless to rumble on about how important failure is to our success without looking at how to use our failures to succeed. The first thing to do is to understand that you failed and to find out why. For students, it is easy: revise with the teacher and identify your weakness so you can turn it into strength. For teachers, evaluate learners to identify their weaknesses. Having established the cause for failure, go ahead and rectify the problem before trying again, this time, more wisely.
Conclusively, no one should ever do anything with an aim to fail, but the fact is that failure is inevitable. We must learn to make the most of it once it is there. This is not the time for any candidate to grieve about their past mistakes and certainly, not the time for any teacher to give up on the students. The remaining weeks and days should be used in diligently preparing for the exams and correcting mistakes. With teachers inspiring students and students encouraging one another, success can be attained.
The writer is a lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa