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The price and prize of failure

In reaction to last week’s column, I got an email from a reader (Mr. Arnold Lim-Cheng of Baguio City) saying that the global financial crisis should teach us a lesson that “Greed has its price. It is just very unfortunate that the poor gets to suffer from it the most.”

Well as old wisdom says: “There is enough for the world’s need but not enough for the world’s greed.”

Aside the ethical side that’s being raised as the root to all of what’s happening today, another lesson worth pondering is the humble recognition of our vulnerability to fail in monumental scales in spite of our ingenuity and advancement in almost all fields of human enterprise. Such failures should serve as a springboard for improvement and correction – trying to make a profit from the good lessons they bring and for us to find more meaningful and better solutions until we finally thwart its recurrence.   

Failure isn’t always bad. At least to those who rose triumphantly amidst the gazillion of failures they have had. If truth be told, success is what follows after failures -- success is born from out of the many failures we go through in every chosen endeavor.       

In a video that I bumped recently, I got enamored by such show of humility by Honda Motor Company for advertising its failure. The Honda video starts with a string of interesting testimonies from people who shared their pains of failure.The same video also features Danica Patrick, whose pretty face never fails to catch the attention of every male audience in the male-dominated sport of auto-racing, shares her worst moment of failure in a near-death encounter during her first race in the Indy Race circuit. The crash that almost caught her life never stopped her to what she has become now being the most awarded female car racer of this generation.

The video then proceeds with Honda’s full disclosure of its chain of failures from color choices to poor engineering of their vehicles. And in spite of it all, Honda emerges as the world’s largest engine makers producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines each year. In August 2008, Honda surpassed Chrysler as the 4th largest automobile manufacturer in the United States.

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“The idea is you can fail a hundred times as long as you succeed once.” says Takeo Fukui, President CEO of Honda. "We can only make fantastic advances…through failures." he adds.

This also calls to mind the wisdom of Scott Parry, the world renowned trainer of corporate trainers, who said of failure as "The secret to success." Parry also says that “Success is not measured by a person's achievements, but by the obstacles someone has overcome.”

He furthered that some 25 percent of the jobs that exist today were unknown as recently as ten years ago and that “Today's wealth is not gained by perfecting what is known, but by imperfectly seizing the unknown."

Many of the successful people we know today were bred by the different seeds of failure. Michael Jordan is just among them who was once cut from the varsity basketball team when he was a sophomore in high school.

Finally, among the most noted failure that we always make example of is that of the famous inventor Thomas Edison who accordingly admitted to have failed ten thousand times before he got his light bulb working -- “I never failed, it just they didn’t work ten thousand times.”

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