Is Failure always measured with Success?

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Today I came across a situation where I had to get back to my past and think about how what I used to perceive as my ‘failures’ have actually been a stepping stone to my success. I happened to share this thought with a good friend and a well- wisher. Her response shocked me… “don’t be too open about your failures, people won’t respect you!” she said.  Well personally I feel, there is no success without failure and only when one has faced a failure they know the value of success and also the true meaning of it. Failure need not be in terms of academic ranks or scores but it can be in any aspect of life, such as: the way one sees life, the way one responds to failure and success, maintaining or responding to relationships etc.

Seeing failure as something offensive and hiding it to only show the success means we have failed in recognizing the real path to where we are, was these materialistic failures that we have faced.

Coming back from where I started this article, I was thinking about my 12th standard results. I had taken science (PCMB) in PUC. Physics, chemistry and mathematics were never my cup of tea and around the same time I had a ligament tear in my ankle and hence I just reached the ‘passing marks’ in these three subjects and also could not get through with a good CET score. I thought I had “failed” as an ideal Indian student by not going into engineering. That was actually my first step towards success. That was my first step into the field I really enjoy and what I am made for. I took up psychology and started proving myself, scoring distinction and now I am in a job where I am not only doing well and earning a good name but also enjoying every bit of what I’m doing. 😊

Thinking of this incident, I remember reading about a concept called growth mind-set by Carol Dweck, where she talks about how failure can be seen as an opportunity to learn and evolve towards success. She spreads the idea of not labeling poor performance as ‘Fail’ as the word has a wrong impression in the society. ‘Failure’ makes people think that it’s the end of their journey to success and hence she calls poor performance as ‘not yet’. In this case the students get confidence that they have ‘not yet passed the test’ but they can once they try again. The performance and results teach them and make them realize that the way they studied and the effort they put was not enough or did not suit their style of learning and hence will try out better and more effective way to reach their goals and also aim at better goals too.

The taboo against ‘failure’ in the society should be changed and it can be changed by positivity and positive outlook towards failure. Each one of us can contribute to this by encouraging a young mind to keep trying. Be open about how much you had to work hard and all the failure you have faced (or thought you faced) and how at this point no body even bothers about that phase of yours. At the end of the day what matters is where one ends up, and if one is really satisfied and happy in the professions they are in and find passion in anything they are doing.

One thing one want to conclude with is, there is no accurate measurement for success and failure in life. Scores and marks are measurements to assess the learning of the students to decide If they will be able to handle the next level of learning and has nothing to do with their worthiness, intelligence or success. Failure and success are only perceptions. Like how I had once perceived (like any Indian student) that success only meant to end up as an engineer. As I matured mentally and emotionally my perception changed and I realize I am a successful, independent individual.

As APJ Abdul Kalam quotes “If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means “first Attempt In Learning” and “If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means ‘Next Opportunity'”

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Set Your Mind To Keep Learning

Learning is a life – long and non – stop process. There is no right way, time and place for learning. It is something that keeps happening everywhere and every time. Being open to this idea will help us attract a lot of messages from the environment that is useful for us to thrive towards perfection and innovation.

As children we are always taught to keep trying to succeed by being given the example of a spider building its web and as we grow we come under the pressure of competition, scoring well in exams where we should be able to learn so much in a limited amount of time and end up learning only to pass an exam or to get a rank. After a point, young learners start associating learning with results that are restricted to scores, points and marks; after passing out of school, learning would be associated with getting selected in a job and to get promoted to next level – again connected with scores, points and performance.

Performance need not always be in a professional learning scenario. One can learn to perform as a good human being in general, a good person in the roles played in relationships (parents, daughters/sons, spouses, teachers, students, bosses etc.). Or why can’t learning be just to enhance knowledge about the world and all the wonderful things happening in it.

I have come across people who always learning like it’s their passion. One of them was my grandfather, who we call called ‘the walking and talking encyclopaedia of the family’ always kept himself active and busy reading. He was well equipped with knowledge in any field, be it science, literature, medicine, spirituality, mythology etc, starting from their history to current trends. When we had any doubt about anything, he would be the first option to approach to gain some information… yes even before Google. He would read so passionately and suggests books for us as well to read.

On the other-hand I have also come across people who look at learning and take suggestions defensively. I have had teachers who perceived our doubts and questions as an offense and would ask us why we are ‘testing their knowledge’. The first step to being open to learning (self – learning and suggestions from others) is to accept that we all are humans and are not perfect. One irrespective of their qualification and professional position would not have full command over their areas without constant learning, updating and preparation.

Updating oneself with knowledge would always not mean learning something which is totally new, it could also be updating the advancement and new versions/editions of concepts already known. Every theory, technique, methodology, astatic presentably, etc. evolve with growing generation and technology. Keeping in touch with these advancements has become a part of being competent to evolve and develop in both personal and professional life.

We have so much to learn from the environment around. For instance, when we are with animals and babies – we can learn so many things such as: how to love unconditionally; to observe everything around and to learn from that observation; to be happy and excited with the littlest things around and most importantly enjoy every moment and grow, evolve and develop.

So, let’s all keep our minds and all our senses open to opportunities to learn to be a better people both personality and professionally and happy learning 😊

Innovate your work

In today’s work scenario, one’s role demands a lot of creativity and innovation irrespective of their field of work. One can make a good name and climb a ladder in their profession based on how original and ‘out of the box’ they think in their work. Many of us find it challenging to keep up to the expectation although there are ways where one can follow to make it easy to maintain innovation.

One of the ways is to trust one’s own ideas and put them down which can be later organised and worked upon based on the feasibility and affordability. It would be best for one to not worry about the result and feel free to think. A better way of planning to execute one’s ideas is to think, “I can get this done, if… (criteria)” rather than thinking “I can’t get this done because… (conditions)”.

Another way is to not stress oneself and to love the work one does. Once there is love and passion for the work and no pressure, there is more openness to think creatively and innovate new ideas that would be helpful for the self, organisation and the society.

I, personally being in a field which requires a lot of creativity, know how important it is to trust one’s own ideas. Keeping one’s ears and eyes open to observe and listen to get more ideas could work as an opportunity to create something that can practically contribute. Reading about innovative practices and work happening in the world can also work as a motivation for one to create. This also gives an idea to the creator/ learner about the latest trends that need innovation and inspire one to contribute in the same.

There are quite a few organisations (such as the one where I work), where every original work, irrespective of being small or big is appreciated and considered as a contribution towards development of self as well as the organisation. It is always the best to make use of such encouraging work environment and find ways to freely think, create and contribute.

“When one Teaches, Two Learn”

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‘When one teaches, two learn’, is an inspirational quote stated by Robert Heinlein. This quote means that when a person teaches someone it’s not only the student but also the teacher who learns.

According to my experience and understanding, teaching and learning go hand in hand and teaching is a process of learning. E.g. – every time a student asks a question related to the concept, the teacher gets to think in a different direction to clarify the quarries and hence learns.

Having experienced as a soft skills and language trainer in a renowned University in Bangalore, there have been so many instances where I learnt new ways to impart knowledge in classroom. I had to research a lot of ways to bring in more interest in the normally dry topics such as grammar. Every session was a new experience where I learnt what actually grabbed the attention of students and what didn’t.

I know much more now than when I started my career as I have learnt so much in the classroom as a teacher/ trainer.

APPLICATION OF THE STATEMENT IN CLASSROOM:

On talking to other teachers and from my own experience I came up with a few points that I would like to share in this article. The following points talk about the ways one can apply the statement “when one teaches, two learn” in a classroom to make learning more fun and effective:

  • Include group discussion and role plays in the class where the students come up with ways to present their understanding of the concepts. In this case, the class, including the presenters learn the concept in an interesting way.
  • Give students the freedom to disagree to the concepts which not only gives opportunity for them to express but also gives the teacher and the other students an opportunity to open up to interpretations different from the standardized ones.
  • Use “teaching” as assignments and allot topics for the students to teach and conduct quizzes for the rest of the class. This would act as a positive motivation for the students to learn a concept going beyond their curriculum.

I would like to conclude saying, one can be a true teacher when they stop only talking/ preaching and start listening to students’ opinions that gives both the teacher and the students a platform to learn. Saying “I don’t know” or “I’ll let you know in the next class” would not take away credibility of teachers but put in more trust in the students about the teachers and their motivation to keep learning.

“Bloom’s Hierarchy” Vis – a – Vis “Maslow’s Hierarchy”

Bloom’s Taxonomy, the commonly applied theory of learning, which begins with the lower order of learning (Remembering and Understanding) and goes up to the highest order of Evaluating and Creating.

In the process of learning, motivation is one of the key factors that affects one’s learning. The more motivated one is, the higher level of learning is achieved. When it comes to motivation, Maslow’s Need Hierarchical Pyramid explains the levels of needs that every human works to satisfy. The theory is applied in understanding human motivation, needs and behavior, in the society by sociologists, at work place by management professionals, by advertisers to grab the attention of relevant audience and by psychologists and behavioral scientists.

Let us, as Academicians/ Trainers, analyze Bloom’s Hierarchy Pyramid in the perspective of Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. In both the hierarchies, one can reach the higher level only when one has the lower levels satisfied/accomplished. Refer to the linking diagram below.

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The first level in both the hierarchies is the basic/foundational need. As one needs basic food, shelter and clothing to grow to higher levels of need-satisfaction in life, an individual needs to remember what is taught to move to the higher levels of learning. This is the first level of need in the learning process.

The second level is the sense of security and stability. Considering how satisfying the needs of employment, good health and monetary needs gives one a sense of safety and security in life, having an ability to comprehend the information that we remember gives one a sense of security and stability in the process of learning. This is the second level of need in the learning process.

The third level is the sense of connection and passion. Just as one gets connected with one’s environment and takes responsibility and ownership of one’s roles in relationships, one feels similar connection while applying and analyzing the information and feels passionate about learning. This is the third level of need in the learning process.

The fourth level is the sense of achievement. In this level, one needs to have the motivation, self-confidence and a drive for achieving. In the same way to be able to evaluate knowledge/understanding, one needs to possess self-confidence and sense of achievement in the field of knowledge. This is the fourth level of need in the learning process.

The fifth level is spontaneity, creativity and morality. One is considered to have the highest level of motivation when one is awakened to one’s own inner strength, and takes spontaneous decisions. Similarly, to reach the highest level of learning and contribute new ideas to the area of knowledge, one needs to be creative, spontaneous and have awareness of one’s capabilities and strengths. This is the fifth level of need in the learning process.

Universities and workplaces can utilize this combination of hierarchical theories for good/ better performances and results.

*Published in MSRUAS Newsletter