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Don’t Give Up

Crash! Now Pick Up The Pieces
Crash! Now Pick Up The Pieces

Contrary to whatever you’ve heard before, failure is a natural consequence of making an attempt at your goals. It’s not the only consequence or the most important one. It is just the one of the options and most of us get to experience it. 

An Igbo proverb says the man who goes early to the stream breaks more pots. A lot of failures is simply due to lack of experience. As you get to know the ropes, you will do better. It is easy to underestimate the number of failures entrepreneurs and innovators have under their belt before they arrive at victory. Biographies are edited after all to accent the victories, not highlight every failure on the path to the high table.

I once met a man who, it was said, failed the institute of chartered accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) exams seven times. When I met him, he was teaching me to prepare and he was the best teacher I’ve ever had. He went on to be known as a stickler for integrity. I don’t want to intrude on his privacy, people of my generation will know who I’m talking about.

A friend’s father was said to have failed the London bar exam to become a lawyer eleven times. He eventually went on to become one of the doyens of the Insurance industry in Nigeria.

Gani Fawehinmi was the best legal mind of his time in Africa. He completed his academic degree in London with a great measure of difficulty due to lack of funds, eventually graduating with a third class. Anybody who knows Gani will know he was a first rate mind, the senior advocate of the masses.

One of my former bosses used to describe easy success as akin to flying a plane on auto-pilot. When conditions are stable, they put the plane on autopilot and computers do the flying. Anybody you see on the pilot’s seat at that point in time seems capable and experienced. It is when the storms start, when the visibility is poor, when one engine is down and you are flying on a wing and a prayer that you know why it takes 1500 flight hours to be an airline pilot.

Initial setbacks are tests to see how much you want it. Do you want it much?

Consider this. When you pass all your hurdles at first attempt, you feel like a genius. Nobody can tell you that the universe conspired to achieve the victory. But when you fail and eventually you fail forward, you might not say it but deep down you will know when the seeds of greatness was planted. One can only see these things when plotting the dots backwards.

Success is not always promised but when you quit, you have already failed. If it is hard now, it is because you are not yet in the zone. Change your coordinates. Pivot. Take a break and come back again.


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