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K12 to Innovation Centers SUCCESS and FAILURE must be taught to Entrepreneurs

11 Jun 2020

"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

-- Winston S. Churchill

If you are taught early in school and at home, success and failure are two sides of the same coin then you have had the best education. Actual success comes from acknowledging failure and the ‘fix it’ approach. Not ever launch, start-up, experiment, or concept is successful but the process itself creates an environment of learning, facing failure, and taking a different approach towards success. It is time to realize shielding a child from social media exposure, failure and from embarrassment only means we are restricting one’s true mental capability and capacity to anticipate potential obstacles. Mistakes are useful, mistakes are a learning ground. Mistakes make risk takers suffer a hundred times before their efforts finally get paid off. Success and failure must be taught from K-12 to invention and innovation centers to make master entrepreneurs.

Success, failure and everything in between

Success is simply defined as ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’. But it cannot be categorized or compartmentalized. One’s interpretation of success may vary, but many term it as the ability to reach a pre-determined goal however controversial or unreachable it may appear to others. It’s also about ‘the firsts’ filling yourself with the curiosity of learning. 

Failure is defined as ‘the absence or lack of success’. It is the exact opposite of success.

A momentary self-esteem crisis is the ‘everything in between’. There are days when you feel super successful and some miserably failing. That is what I’d say is the right attitude as it takes you from one goal to another – some more attainable and some less in keeping with your internal values and conditioning, and external environment. It’s not about measuring up to society standards but what we learn in the process of self-evolvement to ascend to a new version of oneself to create the masterpiece.

Stories of failures turned into success

Henry Ford was a machinist’s apprentice with big goals. His dream to design and build cars failed with his first automobile Quadricycle. Then came the Detroit Automotive Company which also had to shut down. With a tarnished reputation, no money, and failed attempts, he still did not give up on his goal. Five years later, when Henry Ford unveiled the Model T, it revolutionized the automobile industry. Not only did Ford use the lessons from these failures but according to him, recalibrated his efforts after each failure that served as an impetus to hone his vision to find success.

Jack Ma appeared to everyone as a perpetual failure. A young Jack failed primary school twice and middle school three times. He again failed thrice in his university entrance exam. He was rejected by the police force and even KFC before becoming the richest man in China. Even Alibaba was rejected and criticized by investors as unprofitable and unsustainable and on the brink of bankruptcy within 18 months. According to Jack Ma, it was his persistence through failures that drove him to success.

Jeff Bezos idea of selling books on Amazon for the first 3 years was scoffed by many. From calling it amazon.bomb, amazon.toast, and amazon.con he built the world’s most consumer-centric company that we know today. Jeff Bezos ‘comfort with failure’ helped him. The four lessons Jeff Bezos shares with entrepreneurs’ are:-

  1. Get Started through Regret Minimization Framework i.e. the idea that it’s better to try now than to regret later for not trying at all,
  2. Focus on the customer to make the company more resilient,
  3. Expand the customer base, keep inventing newer products and services for your consumers, and
  4. Be stubborn so that you won’t give up on experiments too soon and be flexible to see a different solution each time to a problem you’re trying to solve.

Not everyone will become a Henry Ford, a Jack Ma or a Jeff Bezos but one can carve his/her own road to success after a multitude of failures. The lesson we all must embrace is to try and fail rather than not try at all to reach a goal that is important to us, irrespective of how it may appear to others. 

Making Entrepreneurs

Today few of the top education institutes have introduced ‘Center for Invention, Innovation, and Incubation’ for dedicated entrepreneurship. These help to encourage entrepreneurship and guide the entrepreneurs through failures by interventions and initiatives. 

They also work to back purpose-driven entrepreneurs who can solve some of the toughest problems using local business models. It’s not just about getting initial funding for entrepreneurs but more so training and mentoring them to survive trials and failures. Mentors can be extremely persuasive and it is important they provide entrepreneurs with a strong mental support system to anchor disruptions and sail further. Yes, failure and success is a subject that is being taught to entrepreneurs today.

Teaching how to deal with failure

Sadly, an estimated one million people worldwide commit suicide every year because they cannot handle failure. The deliberate measure is because of a lack of programs and learning since early childhood that can prepare people to handle both success and failure equally. Often social expectations and cultural conditioning drive people to death. Before therapy, comes teaching. Some of the important things around success and failure that we need to teach from a young age are,

  • Be prepared to handle success and failure.
  • Follow the ‘never give up easy’ formula.
  • Find how to show your emotions and openly discuss chances of success and failure.
  • Understand no situation is permanent, it’s the process that is important.
  • Don’t make emotional decisions. Decisions need to be backed by some logic and practicality.
  • Build a strong support network. 

Now is the time to get the next generation to prepare for a fulfilling life ahead. Times ahead after the COVID-19 pandemic will be different. Jobs are getting fewer, and entrepreneurship more pronounced. It is time to introduce a subject in school that helps one to understand the challenges ahead and face both success and failure with equal ease. Parameters and methodologies may change and goals may be different but the underlining message should be the same for every individual and future entrepreneur - yes, success and failure are two sides of the same coin.  


About Rukshana -

Rukshana is a freelance content and communication strategist based out of Mumbai, India. She mingles her expertise in PR with comprehensive domain knowledge and creative writing skills to assist and propagate business, worldwide. Being a quick learner, she utilizes her diversified digital expertise to provide copywriting and content writing services to create highly profitable brands, products, and services.