Thursday, April 19, 2012


There's a strong tendency, to overestimate the harm of failure. But the reality in sports is that third place is considered by many to be the second runner-up. 

No one remembers the scores you lose by, the margins of victory, nor your ranking, for  what matters is the position you finished in.

Anything less than winning is often perceived as “not making the grade.” It is this tendency, and lack of respect for failure, that undermines progress. That is crystal clear as so far as the hockey team is concerned in their attempt to make it to London 2012.

The topic of failure is the subject that is so often raised in our sporting fraternity.

And the failure of the national junior team in meeting the target of making it to the Olympics will be the subject of public discussions for weeks to come, unless another failure supersedes events.

We can moderate our response to failure by understanding the role of failure in the process of success. The single biggest obstacle to achieving prosperity is a lack of understanding of the essential role of failure in this process.

This prevents people from yielding the full measure of their potential. The belief that failure is bad causes immense harm. It severely restricts talent and contribution. But above all it prevents change that is so needed in Malaysian sports.

You can call it a jinx; you can call it bad luck. You can call it poor administration or poor talent. But just don't call it solely the players fault as far as the performance and third place of the national team in Dublin is concerned.
For all intent and purpose the players did their level best with the limited options available to them.

This perception of failure is a threat, a roadblock, on the path of progress. It would be nice to unwrap the package known as progress, and keep the sweetness of success while rejecting the bitterness of failure. That simply is not possible.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas and went bankrupt many times before he built Disneyland. 

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade and had a lifetime of defeats and setbacks until he became Prime Minister of England when he was 62.

Abraham Lincoln failed in business and lost nine times in his political career before becoming president of the United States.

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded with the Ford Motor Company.

But can we allow that much of liberty when our society that had tasted success in the past is starved off it in the last two decades?

Success holds you accountable for the costs of your actions. You contribute to this general well-being by accepting the failures as well as the successes that come your way. If failure is viewed as an isolated occurrence, rather than an integral part of progress, it stands naked in the spotlight.

Fingers point and its judgments fly. When alone, away from the big picture of progress, failure appears harsh and unfair.

Although you could endure a brutal beating of criticism or an unhealthy round of self-condemnation, it is natural to protect yourself from such failure. However, avoidance of failure eventually impedes your progress, as seen by the attempts to deny the allegations in the report which outlined history.

There's no need to whitewash failure or to pretend that failure is an unmitigated blessing. Hence the MHC president should not seek to find solace by saying that we have a bright future ahead of us.

Mind you these were the exact words that were uttered when we finished fourth in two successive Junior world Cups and made the World Cup after 16 years in the cold.

So if there was no issue with the report submitted by the coach, why is it that the MHC President had to meet the players and spend close to 40 minutes listening and pondering on what was revealed?

One simple para answers it all, for the coach claims that Ireland benefited from players plying their trade in Europe. So why did our coach prevent players from playing in the overseas leagues? His contention is that our players should only play in top divisions. But did he check the fact that the Irish players were involved in lower divisions in clubs in England as well?

The truth will hurt because we cannot accept criticism with an open mind. However, a proactive response to failure is impossible as long as you see failure only in negative terms.

Failure serves an indispensable function in the production of any great success. It provides information and motivation for people who respond appropriately to its lessons.

Failure is part of the steering mechanism that directs an individual toward prosperity. Preventing failure is equivalent to removing the steering wheel from a moving vehicle.

Failure will be seen as undesirable. Unless it's given the respect it deserves. That's not to say that you should be fond of failure. Rather you can learn to embrace its purpose as an understated and unappreciated side of progress.

Rich lessons are the fruit of failure and you can extract them at will. Failure isn't a permanent condition unless it's regarded as such by those unwilling to ensure their own progress.

Put failure in the right perspective, it’s an opportunity for regrouping and evaluation while accepting the experience as part of the journey of success.

Perception is everything and your perception of failure is your reality! Progress depends on a constant supply of small failures.

Unless failure is understood and respected as an integral part of success, it will remain widely perceived as unnecessary and objectionable.