Fail successfully to succeed

While pseudo failures should not be used as a guise to boost one's ego, we should be cautious not to stigmatise failures ("What the 'CV of failures' really reveal about career setbacks"; May 24).

We should not overlook failures, as they are inevitable milestones on the journey to sustainable success.

The significance and value of a failure can be particularly important in a society characterised by "kiasuism" and which sometimes goes overboard in glamorising success and the successful.

Failures are good servants but bad masters. They can be seen either as problems or as opportunities for greater successes.

In essence, there's nothing wrong with failures. It's how we respond to them that makes them good or bad.

Without preventing, resolving and learning from failures on a proactive basis, it's hard to live a full life and succeed in anything substantial and on an ongoing basis.

Failures can compel us to reflect, analyse, and find better ways to achieve worthwhile goals.

They can spur us to learn how to overcome potential challenges to achieve desired outcomes.

Failures can act as experiences and feedback to help us improve and achieve better results.

They can help us develop major values that can strengthen our character, commitment, competence and compassion.

These values include mental toughness, disciplined focus, perseverance, grit, resilience, empathy and teamwork.

As mere detours on the journey of life, they serve to correct us and help us live wisely and have better lives.

Many of the lessons from failures stay with us long after we have forgotten the academic content taught to us in school and the exhilaration of success fades.

These lessons become a vital and integral part of our lives.

In the fourth industrial revolution, one of the pillars of survival and success is creativity and innovation.

To develop these life skills, learning how to handle failures and rejections has to be an important part of the formal and informal curriculum.

As we take Singapore on the next lap, perhaps we should review how we can cultivate these skills in schools, workplaces, communities, and our society.

If we do not put failure in its proper place, our unbridled "kiasuism" can distract, deviate and delude many from pursuing their rightful dreams and places under the sun.

In short, we can learn both individually and collectively how to fail successfully so as to achieve sustainable successes.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

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