A couple of years back I had noticed a peculiar behaviour in my son Kabir. Every task that he did was divided in to two groups – “I’m good at it” and “I’m not good at it”. He would be frustrated and resist doing “things” he thought he wasn’t good at. He would decide it even before trying the tasks for the first time. It took me time to realise that it was the fear of failure which was stopping him. And when I look back somewhere it was my fear of failure which had trickled down to him. I would only do the things in front of him that I was good at and not let him see the side of me which wasn’t perfect. When I was baking professionally, I never showed him all the icings and cakes gone wrong. When I couldn’t park right (I still can’t), I tried to cover it by making some excuse.
I saw this heartwarming new #HaarKoHarao campaign by Surf excel and could so relate to it (their #daagachhehai campaign is still on my all-time favourites and the new campaign is an extension of it). Children left on their own are fearless and relentless in trying. Just the way Kabir was when he was a baby. I don’t remember him being scared of a lizard or a cockroach. Or for the matter when my brother’s son (then 11 months old) came visiting us, he was not one bit scared of my kitten. He was tugging and pulling him, while my not-so-little kitten just submitted himself to his antics.
Anyways coming back to the point. It’s in the last two years that I have seen a huge difference in my son again probably because my outlook towards failure has changed. I was someone who would be scared of trying anything at all and now I embrace the philosophy “The worst that can happen is that I will fail”. Not only that, I also display unconditional love irrespective of the situation (ok let me be honest, most of the time). And that has made Kabir open to trying a lot of new things himself. It’s so true that failing isn’t bad, it’s the fear of failure which holds us back. Kabir doodles away now, makes comic strips which are full of characters created out of his imagination and creates solo skits. For the last two years, he has been flying solo internationally to spend time with his father. And not only that, he is more participative in his school activities as he knows that the worst thing that can happen is that he will fail. But failing isn’t so bad after all.
Here are my favourite lines from the book Oh! The Places You Will Go, in which Dr Suess talks about failure in a very subtle way.
“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”