Today, I submitted a blank test sheet and I was feeling so happy and fulfilled. Yes I know it sounds strange but that is exactly what happened in my class today.
“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” – Eloise Ristad
There is this fearful course in my department called “Building Structures for Architects” that is the nightmare of many an Architecture Student. It involves lots of calculation and structural analysis – so you can understand why. It has been a ‘borrowed’ course from the Department of Building right from our 2nd year.
Though I wouldn’t call it my favourite course, it isn’t my worst either. I have always tried to do my best in every course so I could get not just a passing grade but a distinction. As a result, my worst grade in ‘Structures’ ever is a B.
That notwithstanding, this semester’s ‘Structures’ was just beyond my reach. Though the attitude and teaching techniques of the lecturer in charge has a role to play, I wouldn’t place the entire blame on him. The course is tough no doubt but I realise that due to certain engagements, I have not given the course all of my attention and diligence.
While preparing for the test last night, I felt so lazy and distracted that I found myself doing something else instead. I already knew deep within me that I will fumble in today’s test and it didn’t even ring a bell. I felt so happy and fulfilled at the prospect of failure that I was napping in the test hall. Hehehe.
Like seriously? That is so unlike me. What in the world happened to me?
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
I was shocked with myself at this reaction. Those that know me very well right from high school know that I don’t joke with my assignments, Continuous Assessment Tests and Exams.
I study hard for each of these assessment methods wholeheartedly and will always deliver when the situation calls. But this time around, I just went blank and took pride in submitting a blank sheet instead of cheating.
How I Learnt to Celebrate My Failures
The archaic Education System we were born into has promoted and instilled the Fear of Failure in us so much that it now becomes the major motivation for studying hard to pass an examination. I wrote exhaustively on this in my ebook which you can get for free here.
Unfortunately, Atichyphobia (fear of Failure), rather than the quest for Knowledge is what actually drives most students to attend lectures, study hard and even cheat or impersonate to pass exams. You may argue that a little of this “Fear” is good as far as it achieves the purpose of increasing students performance in school. Well, that could be true but there are enormous side effects that seem to outweigh the advantages of Atichyphobia.
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Firstly, how well do these students retain the materials learnt (or crammed?) after the exams? Less than 50 per cent, I would say. Right now, there are questions from my last semester’s notes you would ask me impromptu and I will fail woefully despite having written them excellently in the exams and scoring an A.
Secondly, why should those not very familiar with the course have to cheat to pass. Without mastering what was taught, of what use will the certificate be to them after graduation? Can you now see why we have so many unemployable graduates in our society?
I learnt to celebrate my failures after I began to understand that there is nothing to gain in having high scores in exams and then roaming the streets to look for a job after graduation.
Whatever you learn in school should be enough to make you self-employed. I discovered that it is Atichyphobia that causes many skilled and highly competent would-be Entrepreneurs to recoil into their comfort zones in the name of searching for a white-collar job. They look up to the Government and Big companies to employ them when they could have become the next big Employer of labour…
Ever since I discovered this abnormally, I vowed not to allow my life to be ruled by Fear anymore – the kind that will cause me to read my books just to pass exams instead of content mastery; the kind of fear that would make me think that I am doomed because I could not answer all the questions in the examination; the kind of fear that makes many of my colleagues commit examination malpractice at the risk of being expelled from school; the kind of fear that is chaining many to their comfort zones instead of pursuing their life purpose; I can go on and on.
By learning to celebrate my Failures, I have liberated my mindset several limiting beliefs that could hinder my success as an Entrepreneur and a Businessman. I have come to see failure as an integral part of success and a way of gaining experience on “how not to” carry out a particular task.
I have come to see failure as a stepping stone to success, an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Now that I know my weakness, believe me, I am going to return to “Structures ” with full armour when it is time for examination.
In fact, I have entered a new realm of freedom that is unknown to most people.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
How To Apply this Freedom in your Business
1. Business is all about taking calculated risks that have the highest potential of return on Investment. You cannot take these risks when you are afraid of failing.
2. By being liberated from the fear of failure, you can be in a position to take quality decisions that will be of benefit to your family, your future and your business.
3. You will be able to open your mind to new opportunities and creative ideas that will explode your profit.
4. When your team members are not afraid to fail, your business will experience increased productivity and a corresponding accelerated growth.
5. Lastly, the harder the bounce (failure), the higher the rise (success). You can never value the joys of success if you have never experienced the pains of failure.
In conclusion, I am not advocating for students to be careless about their studies and “boldly” fail their exams in the name of celebrating their Failures. Nay! All I am saying is that, whenever we fail, we should own up to our mistakes, learn from them and use them to better our lives and businesses rather than crying over spilt milk or burying our heads in the sand.