Some days ago, it was reported on the mainstream media that eight mountain climbers were missing in the Indian Himalayas. The eight climbers include four Brits, two Australians, one American, and one Indian. And a couple of days ago, it was sadly reported that five bodies have been found. The goal of the mountain climbers was to summit Nanda Devi; India’s second highest mountain. The cause of their misfortune was as a result of avalanche on the 25000 feet mountain.
Climbing a mountain is a big risk – you need the right skills and characters to get to the peak, and while at the peak, you also need those attributes and qualities to stabilise your position at the top, and in spite of the skills and character, the unwanted do happen. On your way up, a lot of things happen – attractions and distractions – if you lose your focus, you can fall, and depending on the level you are, your fall might be fatal. Besides falls, weather conditions might change, and most of those changes can be devastating, miserable, or dangerous. When you’re caught in those conditions, it’s only God that can save you. So, when I heard of the eight missing mountain climbers and the presumption that they’re dead because of the aerial photographs that showed bodies in the snow, my sympathy went out to the families and friends of those that journeyed up north – the mountain climbers.
Anthony Joshua has been a fantastic boxer. He first came to fame when he won an Olympic Gold Medal in London 2012 Games. After that, he turned professional, and in seven years, he was the WBA, IBF, and WBO world heavyweight champion. To win those laurels, he journeyed up north – fights of his life. He didn’t fight because he was a boxer – he fought because to go up, you have to fight. It isn’t just boxers and wrestlers that fight – everyone who goes up fights. No fight no climb. Even if Antony Joshua recently lost his titles to Andy Ruiz Jr, he is still up and would probably be one of the best boxers ever to be born in this beautiful planet. In 23 fights, he lost once, and the loss was devastating, and many people came up with theories why he lost, but what they don’t understand, or what they haven’t taken into consideration is that as you journey up north, the road can be sometimes bumpy, and for the fact you fell doesn’t mean you’re out – it’s a temporary setback. Again, what would life be without failures? There are many lessons one learns from failing, and I will talk about a few of them.
1. Failure creates anger: to any sensible person, failure creates anger, but what you do with it matters a lot. Some people misdirect their anger, which makes them do silly things, and in some adverse cases, leads to either depression or suicide, but to motivated people, anger helps them never to repeat failures – they are inspired to make sure that the instances that led to failures are avoided.
2. Failure makes you have a rethink: sometimes, what you failed in may not be what you’re called for, and some other times, why you failed may be self-inflicted – whatever it is, failure makes you evaluate the reasons for a poor outcome, and after that, take corrective measures. As you think, you look at the things you did right and the ones you did wrong, and the points where those rights and wrongs took place, and as you plan a fight back, you take those key points into consideration. For instance, I remember my first year in the university when I failed a physics course in mechanics and thermodynamics, I was so upset that I couldn’t eat – I remember crying in the university restaurant, and one of my friends who was a medical student consoled me. In spite of my vexation, I went back to the hostel to have a rethink. I knew I prepared for the course very well but there was something I didn’t do right. As I re-examined my strategy, I realised that I didn’t do much on understanding the principles behind most of the calculations. The following year, as I prepared for the examination, I took my time to understand those points I ignored in the previous test – when the result was released, I had a high score. Till date, that knowledge revolves in my head, and that failure helped me to strategise on not just examinations, but other aspects of my life.
3. Failure makes you a better mentor: if you haven’t failed, it’s difficult to tell people how not to. Many people who teach about business successes have failed in their businesses, learnt their lessons and bounced back. Any mentor who tells you he’s never failed should be avoided, because he’s a liar – if he’s never failed, it means he’s never done what he’s asking you to do.
4. Failure makes you realise the need for a prompt reaction: when you read the article, “50 Examples of Corporations That Failed to Innovate,” your heart will sink. Popular amongst these 50 corporations are Kodak, Nokia, Yahoo, IBM, Blackberry, and Hitachi. Yahoo was once worth $125 billion, but was sold to Verizon for $5 billion. According to the Valuer, “In 2005 Yahoo was one of the main players in the online advertising market. But because Yahoo undervalued the importance of search, the company decided to focus more on becoming a media giant. The decision to focus more on media meant they neglected consumer trends and a need to improve the user experience. Yahoo managed to gain a massive number of viewers to view content but failed to make enough of a profit in order to scale.” It also difficult to imagine that in 2002, they missed the opportunity to buy Google because the CEO refused to carry on with the arrangement, and 2006, they also missed another opportunity of buying Facebook when they lowered their offer. Today, people hardly talk about Yahoo. They failed because they didn’t react promptly, but their failure was a wake up call for big organisations like Google and Facebook. These organisations waste no time in responding promptly to innovations, and that was why Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 – in 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn.
5. Failure kills the blame-game attitude: if you haven’t failed, it’s so easy to blame those who have, but if you have, you show more empathy because you know what it feels like. Inexperienced people who have never done it tell those in the game how to do it, and blame them for not hitting the targets. Until you play and lose, you won’t know what it means to fail. Those who failed made efforts – they were involved. Those who criticise have probably never been on the pitch – they don’t play, so they don’t fail – they can only run their mouths.
The journey up north is a war, not a battle. Like it’s commonly said, you can lose a battle and still win the war, or win a battle and lose the war. As you climb up the mountain to inspire change, it won’t be easy – anything can happen, but you must make up your mind not to stop. It is better to die climbing than live miserably in the valley. I’m going up north. I don’t know how far I can climb, but I won’t stop climbing. Don’t stop climbing – keep the journey up north.