The price of failing

Everything in life comes at a price. Everything: the great, the good, the not so good and the outright terrible. There is a price to pay for everything in life. So, it is not just the successful or the accomplished that had to pay a price to attain their celebrated heights, even failures paid a price for failing.


The lure of failure

Many people end up as failures because of the appeal of failure. While it is true that very few people actually started out in life with a plan to fail, many people failed because of the lure that failure had on them. Failure pulled them and they did not have enough resolve to resist the pull. So, they caved in to it.

The lure of failure comes in various forms:


Being motivated by common people

In every venture, the regular people are in the majority while there are very few exceptional ones. What determines where a person ends up in life is a function of where he draws motivation. Since like attracts like, those who find motivation in successful people end up becoming successful while those motivated by the average people become like their heroes. Those who regularly interact with average people and see them as their role models are unable to desire anything better than what they see. Therefore, they end up like their idols without the realization that they could have been way better than how they ended up.


Pleasure of avoiding the grind

Success comes with a grind. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, once said he puts 18 hours into his work daily. Many of the successful people work for between 12 and 18 hours every day. They are so engrossed in their work that they  have little or no time for anything else. Not only is this tasking, it is also constraining, which makes it loathsome to the commoners. Average people love the easy life and despise the grind. However, what they gain at the swing, they lose at the roundabout as they have to contend with the limitations imposed on them by failure. Everyone has to choose between the grind of success or the grime of failure. Those who avoid the grind of success will have the grime of failure to contend with.


Causes of failure

Success is not a matter of course for anyone. As a matter of fact, it is easier to fail than to succeed. Success requires decisiveness, deliberateness and distinction. Those who are either unwilling or unable to travel the route of decisiveness, deliberateness and distinction cut thin their opportunity of becoming successful.

Here are some causes of failure:


Counting on luck

A lot of those who end up as failures wait endlessly for their lucky break, forgetting or ignoring Jonathan Winter’s counsel that if your ship does not come in, you should swim out to it. They keep hoping that one day they would have their lucky break and hit the milestone they have always wanted. But the reality is that those who wait for their lucky break often end up broke and broken because they are too languid to take the actions that will guarantee them success.

These people sometimes have fatalistic attitude, believing that what is meant to be will be irrespective of what the individual does. Majority of those who fall into this category are religious people who have come to believe that the fortune of a man is predetermined by celestial forces and not a function of what is done by the man. So, rather than take charge of their lives and steer same the way they want, they resign to fate and take solace in the assumption that their affairs are beyond their control. While it is true that certain factors that determine success are not within the control of man, majority of the success-determining factors can be controlled by man. Those who focus on what is beyond their control rather than what they are capable of controlling, end up being unsuccessful.


Inability to discover and develop uniqueness

What is valued in an individual and get rewarded by others is the person’s uniqueness. In business, this is called the niche, the specific problem a business outfit is out to solve. If a business lacks a niche, it will be ordinary. It may survive but it will be difficult for it to thrive. The same goes for individuals. For anyone to stand out, he must first identify his uniqueness, strength or talent, develop same and then serve others with it. If what the individual offers is commonplace, it holds no special attraction and cannot command the type of patronage or respect that will make the person exceptional.

Discovering your strength or talent is not enough; it must be polished and developed for it to attract the kind of reward that would make it worth your while. A talent or strength is not different from a seed. A seed has the potential to die as a seed, grow to become a tree or even a plantation depending on how it is handled. Many people with great talents end up being ordinary because they fail to develop their uniqueness.



Indiscipline is a major recipe for failure. Anyone who lacks discipline will most likely find the climb up the success ladder impossible. Even when those who are undisciplined manage to attain success, they are unable to sustain it.

Indiscipline is the incinerator of destiny, the destroyer of values, the furnace of talents and the slayer of hope. Indiscipline reduces a giant to a wimp, makes mincemeat of capacity, and robs nobility of its grace. Many lives have been shattered by it. Many organizations have been reduced to rubble by it. Indiscipline destroyed Enron Corporation, the energy giant; turned Robert Mugabe, who started as a freedom fighter, into a hermit in his old age; and made Nigeria, despite her huge potential, into poverty headquarters of the world. When indiscipline shows up excellence flees; where there is indiscipline, creativity is bowed; where indiscipline holds sway progress is shackled. Whoever is given to indiscipline builds only to destroy. Hence, the wise avoid indiscipline like a plague.


The rise and fall of Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson made history as the youngest boxer to win a heavy weight title. He was just 20 years and four months old in 1986 when he achieved this feat. He also made history as the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC and IBF titles. So lethal were Tyson’s punches that he won his first 19 fights by knockout. Although he lost his titles to Buster Douglas in 1990, he staged a comeback in 1996 and regained both WBC and WBA titles.

Though an excellent boxer who had 56 professional fights, winning 50 of them, Mike Tyson lacks discipline and has consequently been unable to sustain the success that professional boxing bestowed on him.

He was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black American pageant contestant, in a hotel room in 1992 and sentenced to six years in prison. He was released on parole after three years. In 1997, during a rematch with Evander Holyfield, he bit off his opponent’s right ear. That earned him disqualification, a $3million fine as well as the suspension of his boxing licence. Several times, he stood trial in court for sexual assault and violence. In 1998, he was again sentenced to one year in prison for attacking two motorists. In 2000, a random drug test showed that Tyson had been smoking marijuana. This forced boxing authorities to reverse his victory over one of his opponents, Andrew Golota. In 2003, he filed for bankruptcy and had to resort to exhibition fights to keep body and soul together. On September 24, 2007, Tyson was sentenced to 24 hours in jail, 360 hours of community service and three years’ probation for being in possession of narcotics and driving under the influence.

Mike Tyson started life as a street fighter and rose to prominence because of his talent, which was properly polished by his coach and mentor, Constantine D’Amato. But he could not sustain the success for lack of personal discipline.

For the undisciplined, failure is an eternal buddy.


Lack of grit

Grit is an unrepentant resolve to succeed against all odds. It is a mindset that settles for nothing but what it set out to achieve. It is an unwavering commitment to goals. It is a belief that nothing is unachievable. It is a conviction in personal and organizational objectives. It is tenacity of purpose. Grit is being fastened to your goal through thick and thin. It is working to achieve your goals day after day, week after week, month after month. It is staying the course for as long as it takes to arrive at the finishing line. Hence, Angela Duckworth says grit is perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

Lasting success is impossible without grit. In business as well as other human endeavours, uncertainties are as certain as death. There will be turns and twists; there will be disappointments and disillusionments; there will be unexpected occurrences; there will be slowdowns and setbacks. But the person that is certain to overcome all these and achieve his set objective is the one that is gritty.

Grit is what sustains you when everything else fails. It is what keeps you going when situation turns awry. It kept Abraham Lincoln going despite his many losses; it kept Nelson Mandela going in the prison for 27 years; it kept Winston Churchill going even when it appeared the tide was not in his favour and the war was already lost. But because these people were gritty, they ended up on the right side of history.

For those who lack grit, success is usually nothing but an illusion.


Making excuses

Excuses are the commonest things to find around. No one needs to look for them to find them. But the fact is that nothing great is ever built on excuses. Those who make excuses have already put a ceiling on what they can accomplish because every excuse they make takes them farther from their goal and drives them deeper into the pit of failure. The more excuses you make for not doing what you ought to do, the more complacent you get and the more uninspired you become. This is one of the factors that distinguish successful people from those who end up at the other end because while failures make excuses for not doing what they ought to do, those with success mindset look for a reason to do what they have to do. At the end, those who fail are stopped by the excuses they make, while the successful are fired up by the reasons they find.


The price of failure

Unlike success which is only prepaid, the price of failure is paid twice, before and after.

Most of those who failed did not fail because they did not make effort, they failed because they did barely enough. That is the major difference between successful people and average ones. While successful people do more than enough and stop at nothing to ensure that a goal is achieved, the average person merely does enough. He does not stretch himself beyond the minimum required. As a result of this disposition, he barely gets by; nothing of significance is ever achieved by those who merely do enough.

Water boils at 100℃ but at 101℃, it becomes steam. There is a limit to what can be done with hot water. But steam is so powerful that it is used to power train.

Usein Bolt emerged winner of Men’s 100 metres race in the 2016 Summer Olympics finishing the race in 9.81 seconds to beat Justin Gatlin who finished the race in 9.89 seconds. The difference between the winner and the first runner up was just 0.08 seconds but the difference in their rewards was humongous.

That is the first price. They pay the price of making effort that is not enough to fetch them their goal.

The second price, which is more profound and painful, is the regret they have to live with later when they realize that they could have become better if they had only put in a little more effort. It is the regret of knowing what achieving their goal could have meant for them and their families if they had only persevere a little more. It is the pain of realizing that they could have actually changed their life’s trajectory if they had exercised more restraint. It is the regret of knowing that they had operated below their installed capacity.

Etim Esien, who is one of the most gifted football players Nigeria has ever produced, was nicknamed the African Maradona because of his dexterity on the field of play. But his career was cut short due to some scandals, which were not entirely his fault, while he was plying his trade in Belgium. In an interview he granted recently, he said if he could turn back the hand of time, he would which to feature at the World Cup. But that is a wish that can never be realized.

For those who fail to achieve their goals, the second price is life-long.


Last line

In life, everybody pays a price. Whether to pay for success or failure is a personal choice.



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