Failure is not final?

Durga Rao 
on 28 January 2010



       Looking at CA results and imagining at the pain of my dear students who could not complete their course, I just want to expose my views on failures and want to emphasize that failure is common in everyones life, but, handling it makes all the difference.

       I have earlier written an article titled “Will your marks and ranks ensure success?” One of my dear fried Mr.K.C.Mehta has posted a comment to my article like:

“Rank gives good start. True knowledge helps career growth. Creativity and innovation makes room at the top. K.C.Mehta, CA”

       The comment made by my friend Mr.K.C.Mehta led me to think at the significance of clearing the exams or completing the course.

       As I have seen and in my opinion students who pursue professionals courses like CA and CS are of many kinds like:

a)  Who makes others to feel that they are studying a prestigious course?

b)  Who pursues the courses with an intention of getting the degree and getting a good placement thereafter which gives a secure life?

c)   Who pursues the courses with a very big ambition in mind like establishing their own firm like Price Waterhouse Coopers?

A failure in examination may not bother the ‘a’ category of students much though they talk too much at their failure and explaining to the society around as to why they could not complete their course.

The ‘b’ category of people really bothers at their failure in examination, but, they start working further to give a good attempt next time.

The ‘c’ category of people tends to react to the failure in a dangerous way and they need to control their temper. They leave attempting to complete the course with the failure at times. Because, for them, clearing the examination is only a step in their long journey as they will be having big dreams. Looking at the long journey they need to make and looking at the size of their target, the ‘c’ category students feel very bad at the failure in examination than anyone.

Academicians and this society need to think much about this ‘c’ category of students as they follow what our great Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam says. 

Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam says: “small aim is a crime”. 

Only the students with big dreams tend to be big in life and their chosen profession. But, they need to control their temper and understand the fact that failure is not final and we can find many failures in the life of successful personalities like Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam has not done anything overnight and it’s a constant effort till his goal is reached.

But, the students who aims high and wants to achieve big things in life and profession should learn as to how to handle the failures and go ahead in life. Because, the students with big dreams and aims tend to face many failures in life and in fact, without many failures and setbacks, you may not be big.

The students, who aim very high and do their level best to achieve what they wanted, should read the biographies of successful personalities and it really guides them.

I believe that many of my friends who pursue CA and CS are with good standards and are knowledgeable and can better understand life. The students who pursue CA and CS can not be seen at par with other students at all. Because, immediate to completing their course, they will be discharging complicated responsibilities in the corporate world where stakes are so high.

All my friends should have read about Lee Iacocca of Chrysler Automobile Company. Lee was a vice-president of Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company was a second largest motor company in USA when Lee has served as a vice-president there. Lee Iacocca is a son of immigrants from Italy and with no background. When Lee was fired from Ford Motor Company at 54, he joined Chrysler when Chrysler was literally bankrupt.  Under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, Chrysler has recovered and became 3rd largest motor company in USA at that time. All the people with knowledge of corporate world should know about Lee Iacocca.  

Lee Iacocca has achieved so much in life on his own and without any background. Once, he has been considered as a candidate to content in US presidential elections too.

        Lee Iacocca has written an Autobiography, I request the ‘c’ category of students to read his autobiography and I have just extracted the prologue from his autobiographical book below:

“PROLOGUE

       You are about to read the story of a man who’s had more than his share of successes. But along the way, there were some pretty bad times, too. In fact, when I look back on my thirty-eight years in the auto industry, the day I remember most vividly had nothing at all to do with new cars and promotions and profits.

       I began my life as the son of immigrants, and I worked my way up to he presidency of the Ford Motor Company. When I finally got there, I was on top of the world. But then fate said to me: “Wait. We are not finished with you. Now you are going to find out what it feels like to get kicked off Mt.Everest!”

       On July 13, 1978, I was fired. I had been president of Ford for eight years and a Ford employee for thirty-two. I had never worked anywhere else. And now, suddenly, I was out of a job. It was gut-wrenching.

       Officially, my term of employment was to end in three months. But under the terms of my “resignation”, at the end of that period I was to be given the use of an office until I found a new job.

       On October, 15, my final day at the office, and just incidentally my fifty-fourth birthday, my driver drove me to World Headquarters in Dearborn for the last time. Before I left the house, I kissed my wife, Mary, and my two daughters, Kathi and Lia. My family had suffered tremendously during my final, turbulent months at Ford, and that filled me with rage. Perhaps I was responsible for my own fate. But what about Mary and the girls? Why did they have to go through this? They were the innocent victims of the despot whose name was on the building.

       Even today, their pain is what stays with me. It is like the lioness and her cubs. If the hunter knows what’s good for him, he will leave the little ones alone. Henry Ford made my kinds suffer, and for that I will never forgive him.

       The very next day I got into my car and headed out to my new office. It was in an obscure warehouse on Telegraph Road, only a few miles from Ford’s World Headquarters. But for me, it was like visiting another planet.

       I wasn’t exactly sure where the office was, and it took me a few minutes to find the right building. When I finally got there, I didn’t even know where to park.

       As it turned out, there were plenty of people around to show me. Someone had alerted the media that the newly deposed president of Ford would be coming to work here this morning, and a small crowd had gathered to meet me. A TV reporter shoved a microphone in my face and asked: “How do you feel, coming to this warehouse after eight years at the top?”

       I couldn’t bring myself to answer him. What could I say? When I was safely out of camera range, I muttered the truth. “I feel like shit”, I said.

       My new office was little more than a cubicle with a small desk and a telephone. My secretary, Dorothy Carr, was already there, with tears in her eyes. Without saying a word, she pointed to the cracked linoleum floor and the two plastic coffee cups on the desk.

       Only yesterday, she and I had been working in the lap of luxury. The office of the president was the size of a grand hotel suite. I had my own bathroom. I even had my own living quarters. As a senior Ford executive, I was served by white-coated waiters who were on call all day. I once brought some relatives from Italy to see where I worked, and they thought they had died and gone to heaven.

       Today, however, I could have been a million miles away. A few minutes after I arrived, the depot manager stopped by to pay a courtesy call. He offered to get me a cup of coffee from the machine in the hall. It was a kind gesture, but the incongruity of my being there made us both feel awkward.

       For me, this was Siberia. It was exile to the farthest corner of the kingdom. I was so stunned that it took me a few minutes before I realized I had no reason to stay. I had a telephone at home, and somebody could bring me the mail. I left that place before ten O’clock and never went back.

       This final humiliation was much worse than being fired. It was enough to make me want to kill – I wasn’t quite sure who, Henry Ford or myself. Murder or suicides were never real possibilities, but I did start to drink little more – and shake a lot more. I really felt I was coming apart at the seams.

       As you go through life, there are thousands of little forks in the road, and there are a few really big forks – those moments of reckoning, moments of truth. This was mine as I wondered what to do. Should I pack it all in and retire? I was fifty-four years old. I had already accomplished a great deal. I was financially secure. I could afford to play golf for the rest of my life.

       But that just didn’t feel right. I knew I had to pick up the pieces and carry on.

       There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born of adversity. There are times when things seem so bad that you have got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it. I am convinced it was that morning at where house that pushed me to take on the presidency of Chrysler only a couple of weeks later.

       The private pain I could have endured. But the deliberate public humiliation was too much for me. I was full of anger, and I had a simple choice: I could turn that anger against myself, with disastrous results. Or I could take some that energy and try to do something productive.

       “Don’t get mad,” Mary reminded me. “Get even.” In times of great stress and adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.

       As it turned out, I went from the frying pan into the fire. A year after I signed up, Chrysler came within a whisker of bankruptcy. There were many days at Chrysler when I wondered how I had got myself into his mess. Being fired at Ford was bad enough. But going down with the ship at Chrysler was more than I deserved.

       Fortunately, Chrysler recovered from its brush with death. Today I’m a hero. But strangely enough, it’s all because of that moment of truth at the warehouse. With determination, with luck, and with help from lots of good people, I was able to rise up from the ashes.”

       As Lee rightly said:

“There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born of adversity. There are times when things seem so bad that you have got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it.”

“In times of great stress and adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.”

So, don’t worry at failures and worry only when you are negligent in your pursuit of big aims.


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