Last week I wrote a bit of encouragement for those matriculants who either didn’t do as well as they had hoped, or failed the class of 2018.
The idea was to help them see the light at the end of a dark tunnel. But one reader asked whether I was, in fact, celebrating failure.
So I thought it’s important that I be a bit clearer about what exactly it is that I mean.
This is especially important since I am known for being anti-mediocrity and I loathe the idea of participation trophies; those certificates that kids get for participation.
It is actually quite embarrassing and no kid ever shows off an “also-took-part” badge.
Don’t get me wrong. I have always been an advocate of 100% effort in everything you do, in order to enjoy the rewards of your efforts.
But I also understand that the world judges you only on results.
Nobody cares that you sat up night after night for months studying for your final exams.
Unless you ace them, of course.
Or if you put in a mountain of effort and then still failed.
That’s just the way of our ruthless, winner-takes-it-all world.
But we now understand that failure at school isn’t an indication of future failure or success.
And that is what I was addressing; the future success stories that do not rely on academic acumen today.
Because sometimes there are simply too many negative variables that are out of our control for us to make it today.
Instead of celebrating failure, I was hoping to guide a future entrepreneur past this depressing moment that could derail their dreams and towards the success that awaits them if they continue to apply themselves.
I was speaking specifically to those youngsters who do not have access to that kind of motivation in their daily lives.
I was hoping to highlight the fact that most of the world’s greatest success stories are as a result of many (and often regular and spectacular) failures and mistakes.
The trick is to learn the lessons of each failure and to keep on moving forward until you have your own success story.
It’s also important to ask yourself what success means to you.
Unfortunately, in this age of social media fame, every young person seems to believe it’s their right to have a shot at fame one day.
They no longer consider the skill that leads to fame; they just covet the vacuous adoration that they themselves shower onto the likes of Kim Kardashian and her kin.
But kids, please do take some time out to consider the different ways in which success is measured and what success means to you.
Is it wealth and recognition, being the master of a valuable skill, or perhaps having a happy family? Focus on it and never give up.
So that one day, while enjoying the fruits of your labour, you can look back and also celebrate the failures of 2018.