Thursday, February 18, 2010

NO KIDDING -2- Is failure a sin??

I am motivated to write this post because of my friend UA’s response to my last post ‘No Kidding’. He came out with a very relevant point: we perceive failure as a sin, something criminal.

His comment refers to an adv of a leading toothpaste where a mother hides her child’s face and avoids camera when a reporter asks her whether her child has failed. She then passes the blame onto her toothpaste and looks confident and happy. UA says he is appalled by this commercial and I back him because if we look deeply, this adv is giving wrong messages to the audience.

Firstly, why is the lady hiding faces from the camera if her child has failed? That means failure is a sin and it’s the worst thing that can happen to a child. And if a child has failed, does that means his parents are in no position to show their faces to the world?? Imagine how much pressure it would put on the child himself, who would see and subconsciously register the fact that because of him his parents are facing the humiliation.

Secondly, the mother says with a somber expression “pata nai kaise fail ho gaya” (don’t know how he has failed). Are we teaching our kids to win at all costs, to become bookworms, theoretical robots or to gain applicable and real knowledge? Are we preparing them for a rat-race of academics or we want them to apply that somewhere usefully? Do we want them to become ‘educated’ or simply exam-passing literates?

And the third thing, which I hated the most too- Suddenly, the mother places the blame on the toothpaste she is using and then the duo regains confidence and feel easy. Are we teaching our kids to pass the blame? Instead, we must teach them to deal with the problem and own the failure as much as we would own success rather than passing the buck around . We must teach them to look for solutions to every problem, not to pass the problem itself to someone else and come out clean. Thus, in the real life a kid who flunked the exams would say "not me my tutor has failed or my books have failed but not me"

I would love to share a small incident that taught me valuable lessons in life at an early age. When I was in seventh standard I flunked the mathematics exam in the first term. I was called to the staffroom and very calmly my mathematics teacher asked me the reason for my low performance, since I had been a good student. I told her that my mother was admitted to the hospital and my father lacked time and I always saw him tensed and busy. Other members were busy too, so I had managed whatever I could, all by myself. She told me to again go through the lessons and consult her for any doubts. I managed time and made a timetable especially for maths, I asked my friends and teacher and meanwhile my personal life came back to normal. In the final exams I came second in my class and got good marks in that very subject- mathematics. Also, this entire thing deepened the bond between me and my friends and I understood how to handle similar situations in future.

We can only value light if we know how scary the dark is, similarly only failure prepares us to understand the joy of success. Failure is not a sin rather an experience that always teaches us something.


  1. Yaa u have said it rightly...failure is a stepping stone to success. I don't think one should get bogged down by failure...one should learn from the mistakes and go ahead in life.

    As Edison rightly said: I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

    But having said that, I would like to point out one thing. Big MNCs (won't name them)...ask for your board exams and graduation marks...you get shortlisted only if you have scored excellently...so even if you are a bright individual but have scored less you don't get shortlisted. This is one reason why parents exert pressure on their kids to score high marks coz they know that if you want a job in a huge MNC, it is your marks that are taken into account first.

  2. @Gayathri

    Edison did 1000 exp not 10000 :P
    And where are those MNCs???? Why am I invisible to them!

    On a serious note.. Yups.. failure is consider a sin.. I don't think that ad ad is wrong in any way. It is exactly showing our society. We people do exactly the same if our kids fail.

  3. You on your way towards sainthood?? Saint Cathedral here she comes.. ;)

    okay okay..me and my weird sense of humor sucks sometimes..

    jokes apart.. I know what you mean.. and totally agree with you.. :)

  4. Hi AS, nice write up. Thanks for adding the third point of passing the buck. It is an innate trait isnt it?

    @Gayathri. I guess you are right about the MNCs when you assume that working for an MNC makes you successful.
    Someone rightly said that' The happiest man is the most successful'

  5. I agree with ur thoughts on both the posts.....

    somewhere down the line,Even i think children have begun losingthe innocence..they are exposed to so much of information n tht too without any filtration that they r absorbing everythin 4m around and behaving like adults.....

    sometimes what they talk about is so so shocking...

    N yeah...failure is surely not a crime..it in fact helps u to know the areas of improvement n it is the parents who shd make the children aware abt this so tht they can even handle failures without stress n perform better the next time...

    It was good to read abt ur experience which related to the post...

    TC..keep cmng up wid such topics.. :)

  6. I dont agree with this...
    Parents dont actually blame their kids for failures... yes they are worried abt wat will happen to their kids (especially middle class which needs a job to survive). What happened in that ad was a hypo situation, something which may happen in real life but not always.

    I was never a bright kid in school... my mom had a harrowing time standing up for me. She backed me all along and a few years later, I was doing well. I topped the state exams... There was no muggu there.

    When you reach higher education, mugging gets u nowhere. Wat they showed in 3 idiots is a joke... Do you really think ppl can mug up engineering texts? They will just be killed by the volume they hv 2 mug. Yes our course is not research oriented, but to say its muggu-oriented is not right either.

    The ad was a hypo situation, I look at it as a bad commercial.. I dont read much into it :)

  7. No Loosing is not a crime .. it is actually an ART... I had written a article on this some time back have a read ... My thoughts on it


    Loosing is a art

  8. Hey I want to see this ad.

  9. A very right point.
    But our parents want us to have a secure future. They keep on saying to study because they know what they have been through and do not want us to fall behind.
    The world is getting too competitive and to survive we must keep up to the standards and failing is not an option.

    And yes, for success - failure is vital.

    LOL. i gotta see that ad now.


  11. Hi G3
    yes right, but practical world is very diff..valid point

  12. hii Abhinav

    yes u r right.. but i think it was 10,000 yaar

  13. hii ST

    hahaha! thanks!

  14. hii UA jee

    thanks 2 to 2


  15. UA jee
    i mean thanks to you too

  16. hii Urvashi

    yes, there is no dearth of precocious kids and thats sad. and yes, faliure is not a crime, rather an opportunity of improvement

  17. hii Sid

    thanks for your views, you are right in practical sense

  18. hii Bikram

    thanks, nice article it is :)

  19. hii Sunil

    ya it appears frequently

  20. hii moonlight

    just as the moonlight shines and becomes an epitome of beauty and we look fwd to it because we have seen a cruel dark night similarly, juxtaposition helps and success shines when one has seen failure


  21. Hi there, I liked your post a lot specially because, it had a very meaningful message in it :) I was most impressed by the last line of the post.The same thing also implies to pains of life... one understand the true importance of pleasure only after one goes through pains. Failure is definitely not a sin and man is innately wanting to resist it at all times, we all face it and if learn to face it in a healthy manner we definitely have an achievement right there :)

  22. Hello Wecognize

    welcome here!

    thanks a ton for this thoughtful comment :)
    yes, we must learn to face such changes in a healthy manner and make them our stepping stones to success :)

    keep coming!