SUCCESS IN FAILURE Christian Manrique

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. Winston Churchill -already a beloved character in this blog- always believed that falling down, standing up and learning was the path towards any goal. He also understood the need of an extremely well designed plan to reach it. His words still have got the power of a meaningful sentence.

Actually, so many different cultures have understood perfectly that behind success lies a long way of mistakes, efforts, perseverance and patience, without any doubt. Some readers might think that the first sentence is just the motivational quote of the day to start a post about Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or the successful founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, after all their hard work. No, this is neither a tale nor an analysis about Max Weber’s masterpiece “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” to understand the differences between the Anglo-Saxon world and the Mediterranean cultures.

On the other hand, it seems quite curious not being able to find any example of well-known people from this country keen to explain and share their experiences and their failures before they reached success.

People experience different upheavals throughout their lives, anyone has to face very hard processes. Some consider these periods in their lives as failures that must be hidden above all and others see those tough changes as a chance and an opportunity to move forward, to change and transform what surrounds them. Even today in Spain CEOs and highly qualified professionals hide something so interesting as a coaching process. This happens because it is seen as inappropriate, as something doesn’t add anything at all, when, actually, it should be considered as a positive and fresh resolution.

The different approach to failure lies on education. The way some generations have been taught has not been based upon excellence. Failure and mistakes have been seen as negative as a stain on someone’s credentials. In Spain entire generations were raised with fear of failure. We were forced to feel guilty for our ignorance, for not having a solution instead of being taught to go the other way around and ask for help to move forward.

We, Spaniards, come from a very strange spot of the world -until the mid-eighties Spain received European Funds for Development– in which education, as well as any possibility to grow, to improve wealth was only possible for a few elites from very selected groups. Any change, any improvement that came from lower classes was always seen as inappropriate from the upper and wealthier ones. Nepotism was well spread among those groups and nowadays it still has its consequences. Not recognizing the good job done by someone has been the usual and common trend in any workplace. Meritocracy is dead. Employees were and still are there only to do their jobs and to be blamed in case things go wrong.  It is also true that showing someone’s own expertise has not been a profitable matter, not to talk within the feminine side. Any sight of brightness has been cut along with loads of sexist comments of contempt.

If all agents involved in a society (mothers, fathers, teachers, institutions, political parties, governments and enterprises, among others) could change and could take time to decide to tear down something that is not important our world would be much better and we could even learn something positive. There is success in failure because it is the weed to improve and to move forward, towards the harvest of something higher. Nobody is saying that this is going to be easy. Nevertheless, more optimism, imagination and creativity are needed.

All aspects of life have good days, great ones, bad ones and even absolute failures exist. It is not a matter of being frivolous, not with the crisis we are going through. Besides, there are failures, produced by very bad decisions, that cost human lives. Notwithstanding, it is possible to overcome upheavals with the right kit or set of tools for everyday life. The time for a new trend should come: alternatives are always possible, as well as new goals to reach new heights of performance without fear, without shame, without sloth.

In order to see failure as something bad, it should be understood since the beginning as a very positive personal learning procedure. With the right goals and planning, adapted to each one, anyone could blossom.

This could be done among the youngest generations from early years with family and educational institutions involvement. Innovation and new technologies could be extremely helpful to break walls, to keep down inequality and to foster and empower either free or affordable education for every child. Personal development, managing success, mistakes, decision making and failure should be studied in schools as a subject, as it is being done already in prestigious Universities throughout their different MBAs and postgraduate curricula.

If we, as a whole, are looking forward to changing society, we must understand that mistakes will give a chance to learn to transform the world. Everyone has her/his own talent. Every little failure is a great success because helps to move towards a better position along with the right set of tools, planning and goals. Let’s do it, we are the champions of the world.


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