Sunday, August 14, 2016

The reality of failures

Look around your office desk for a moment (you can imagine an office if you are not at office). What do you see? People focusing on the daily tasks, glued to their screens or notepads, crunching numbers, making phone calls, typing text, doing whatever they have to in order to achieve some daily target that is either self established or was handed down by a manager. If you are in your mid twenties to mid thirties, have a career, have a dream that you are chasing, devoting way more time to what we consider "success" then you might have come across my friend called failure.

Failure has been with me for a decade now. Not because I like him, but because he is just everywhere. It is known that majority of startups/new ventures fail. If that majority is like 90% or more, then 9 of us out of 10 could not get to sustaining financial growth or stability. Without that, you can either burn someone else's money or wind down the venture. After that you either start a new cycle, or do a day job, use your skills, grind everyday at work, still dreaming that one day you will be able to bring some change in the world.

But change is already happening. It is the only constant. Am I not changing the way things work in my day job? I sure am, but why does that not count as success? If you asked a graduate student who just came out with a degree in hand and has a dream of a well paying job where she can build things, lead people and have a good life, then I am already there. In fact I have been there long time back. But that is a measure of someone else's success.

The problem with success or failure is how you measure your life versus how others do. What may be hard earned success  to one man may be just a walk in the park to another woman, and she does not see that as success. Over the years the measuring sticks also change. We grow, learn new things, and our perspectives change. When I was in my early twenties my whole measure of success was to build software products, use cool technology and maybe brag about them. Now it is more about solving someone's problem, the cool shiny toys are not as important anymore. But it is not just about what I do 8-12 hours of my day everyday. It is also about my life or what I think it should be. 10 years back I would not have thought about traveling around the world, making friends, knowing cultures, or having "just" good life. I would have hated these things because they meant nothing to me then. I was all for the glory of new companies trying to change the tomorrow, working crazy hours and not even thinking why I was doing that. I am sure we all have been there for a while.

The older I grow, I measure success and failure differently. And I have to chase these new targets that I deem as success. Things like mentoring others, spending time with friends, seeing the world give me more satisfaction now than a few years back. And I am gravitating towards doing more of these. So why does failure still stick around? Perhaps because I want him to. Because I need something to tell me not to stop moving forward, not to settle for anything less that what I deem as greatness. Perhaps just peer pressure sometimes. Greatness does not have to be a millionaire founder or a rockstar programmer. What is important is to accept that our lives are how we want to measure them. The measuring stick is created from our environment, with our own and others thoughts mixed together. Success and failure will always be together, there is no need for alarm as long as we keep moving towards our personal goals, which will in turn evolve in time. This is the journey, the reality. Without failures it would be a very boring one. Let him motivate you, not threaten you. As they say: what does not kill you makes you stronger.

Have a happy journey!


Saikat Sengupta said...

Nicely put; loved it!

vijay shanker said...

Thanks for sharing your experience

Anonymous said...

:) nicely said!

memoirs of an unquiet mind said...

I could relate to all of it, hence know how real things are...Loved reading through as always...

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