I’ve always been a fan of Kemi Adetiba from way back when she was the host of Maltina Dancehall Family Show. In fact, I wrote a post on how I’d love to have lunch with her (hopefully, this will happen soon).
Anyway, when she started her King Woman series on Accelerate TV, it was something I knew I had to watch. And I did. I thoroughly enjoyed all the interviews, but one stuck with me – Chigul’s interview.
Maybe it’s because I could relate, to an extent, with some of her travails especially with failing in school.
In my post on how I failed Senior WAEC three times, I talked about the effect failing this exam had on my psyche, my emotions and every thing. I felt like a failure. Not that I wasn’t brilliant, no, that was not the case. In fact, I was one of the best students in my school, so failing WAEC 3 times did a number on me.
Chigul (real name Chioma Omeruah) is a well known comedienne, actor, singer and an all round entertainer. But before she became Chigul, she had to go through so much – the loss of her father, academic failures, bitter relationship with her mother, failed marriage etc. Through it all, she persevered.
Everybody hates to fail. I don’t know anyone who would love to fail constantly. However, we often fail to realize that failure is part and parcel of this thing called life.
Modern Christianity has taught us to see failure as a device of the devil, or the plan of your perceived enemies. In Nigeria, there are hundreds of crusades and vigils where the theme is casting out the spirit of failure. These gatherings are hugely attended by people who misconstrue failure as a negative thing.
One of my favourite TV talkshow host, Ellen DeGeneres once said, “when you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important. It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”
History has shown that the greatest minds, and the most successful individuals all failed at one point. Think Albert Einstein, Winston Churchhill, Elon Musk, Steven Speilberg, Bill Gates, and so much more. There are so many famous people who failed woefully but didn’t allow their failures define them. You can read about these people here, here and here.
Watching Chigul’s interview was very emotional for me ( I shed a few tears), and there are so many positives you can take away from this interview. Most importantly, how not to let failure deter you.
Over a year ago I listened to a motivational speaker on the radio. He was talking about entrepreneurship and how it was important for everyone to have something outside of their normal 9-5 jobs. I was so fired up after listening; I wanted to start something immediately.
I got to work that day and couldn’t stop talking about it. Even my friends were scared, and rightly so. I just kept talking about how I was going to start something on the side. The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I was going to be an entrepreneur.
Remember my post on why everyone can’t be an entrepreneur? Yeah, I was writing from experience. After much pondering (and pondering), I remembered that I had a cousin who just finished her mandatory National Youth Service. She hadn’t gotten a job yet, so she enrolled in a fashion school to learn sewing.
And that was it. That was what my business was going to be about, fashion. I was going to dive into my savings and bankroll this cousin of mine. She would buy fabrics, make the clothes, and I’ll be in charge of the marketing.
We discussed and agreed on a name, a logo, and our niche. All this happened within 2 weeks. It was so fast that my friend Tope, couldn’t wrap her head around it.
Now, see where the problem started. I didn’t know anything about fashion, I just relied on my cousin’s knowledge. In hindsight, I now know that it is important to have an in depth knowledge of any business you are venturing into.
Another problem was logistics. We didn’t think of our target market. How do we deliver to people outside of the State where we were operating from? We didn’t think of returns, refunds and customer complaints. Suffice it to say, we (or I) didn’t think about a lot of important things. In the process, I lost my savings without recovering anything.
To make matters worse, my cousin got a job, and didn’t have time for the business anymore. I finally, after much thought, decided to put everything on hold. We still have a backlog of clothes we haven’t sold, but I’ve counted that as a loss, and a learning curve.
Why all the long story? It is just to emphasize that failure, although painful, is not necessarily a bad thing. After my fashion business failure, I know what to do and what to avoid. The experience has taught me a whole lot, and I decided to pick the positives.
One of the important lessons one learns from failure is experience. With experience comes knowledge, and I daresay expertise. When you fail at something, you learn how not to do it, and even begin to think of other possible ways of achieving your plan.
I just remembered something very hilarious. When we were kids, my siblings and I would, after school, put on the telly to watch cartoons. This was strictly forbidden by my father. After school, we were expected to eat, finish our homework and sleep (I hated the mandatory siesta). But my father always knew we put the TV on, and we suffered for it.
Every time, same result. We couldn’t figure out how he knew we disobeyed him. Until we learnt that the back of the TV gets hot while it’s on. So, what my dad does was to touch the back of the TV whenever he got back from work, and if it was hot, he knew that we put it on.
We became masters at devising means to cool the TV while watching. I guess it never occurred to us to stop disobeying. From placing wet rags, to putting the fan beside the TV, we did all sorts of things.
I guess this example may seem a little elementary vis-a-vis our topic, but I feel it best explains how you can gain experience from failure.
Just like experience, failure brings knowledge. You learn and that knowledge can be used to overcome the failure. Think of the great inventors, like Thomas Edison. I bet you that before he created the electric light bulb, he must have failed a thousand times. It was the knowledge he got from these failures that helped him create the light bulb.
According to Winston S. Churchill, “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” This is golden. With failure comes courage. Even if you didn’t achieve what you set out to achieve, you must take courage in the fact that you tried. Courage, simply put, is taking action even while feeling the fear of failure.
There are so many people that have let their fear of failure prevent them from trying to reach for their dreams. So, if you’ve tried and failed, at least you had the courage to do so.
When I first heard the statement that your best chance of success in a particular endeavour or business, is when you fail in it, I didn’t understand it. Not until a friend rephrased it saying that by failing, you learn how not do it, and this gives you an edge over someone who doesn’t have that experience.
Do not view failure as a bad thing. Remember, if you don’t fail, you don’t succeed.
Every disappointment is a blessing! Failure teaches you new ways to look at things. Your perspective changes, and you begin to think of other routes to achieving success. You begin to realize that the door that closed opened up a new opportunity for you.
A dear friend of mine graduated top of his class. He wanted to work in the oil and gas sector, so he applied to the different IOCs and indigenous oil companies. No result. He got invitations to attend interviews, but for no reason, he never got the call back.
After years of waiting, he decided to try something else. See, he had a gift, the gift of numbers. He started helping with the books at his mother’s fabric store. From there, he started helping other traders for a fee. Next he started tutoring students, mostly college students. And he was getting paid for it.
With the money he got from assisting traders and tutoring students, he enrolled for an accounting certification course. He passed with flying colors and got an immediate employment with one of the top accounting firms in the country. Even with his hectic schedule, he still finds time to help the traders with their books, and also tutor students.
When I asked if he regrets never getting a job in the oil and gas sector, he said no. To him, the failure to get his dream job was a redirection to other opportunities. He wouldn’t have made use of his gift for numbers if he hadn’t failed to get the job.
Like Chigul, and so many other people, it is important to note that failure is on your side. Without it, you may not grow, learn and find new opportunities.