Sunday, July 08, 2007

Failure is not an option?

As the old Chinese saying goes, failure is the Mother of Success. But sometimes we fail because we give up, and when should we give up, or shouldn’t. I think failing is not scary, but the physiological impact of giving up and failing could be quite devastating. More important is giving up on something which we have passion about, or something which we think we could accomplish. It’s like giving up on something we like, or giving up on something which we are capable of.

As for my personal experience, one of the major things I give up is being a fulltime freelance software programmer. It was my first time doing freelance work, but I guess my expectation is slightly unrealistic due to my lack of experience and business contacts. I finally gave up and got myself a second employment job. I guess I didn’t really regret it, as I know there is no way I can succeed in it at the moment of time (though I do like the idea). But I didn’t really give up the idea, as I continue my freelance work on part-time basis until today. I did put the dream on hold.

Somehow during the process, I got persuaded to become an Insurance agent or Financial Planner alike. The idea sounds interesting, and it’s a possible path towards success. I face a lot of psychological barrier, as I am not really a “sales” material but more like someone who work in the back room. I once read a book, saying sales is the most secured job in the world, as you bring in income to the company and you are not a cost. I agree with the idea, but I have to admit I am not a sales material. My character does not suit the nature of the job and I have no passion for it. I gave up on the 3rd phone call trying to meet people, and didn’t even survived until the 1st business meeting. So I give up because I realise I didn’t have passion and found myself not suitable for the job, and I understand better on what kind of career I am looking forward for. It’s not so much on looking for the best job or most profitable job, but a job which I am happy about.

I also give up on my last relationship with my ex-girlfriend, which I think is the right move and I felt relieved about it. Things are going the very wrong way, a decision have to be made to “give up”, rather than dragging something which doesn’t have a future nor bring any happiness.

My cousin faces great difficulty when she is doing her PhD in UK, where her supervisor throws her thesis into the dustbin after reading the first page. She felt devastated, as she spends months doing it with her best effort. After talking with her friends, she picks herself up again and re-submits again after some amendments. The 2nd try is not a charm either, and she is very down and lost. At the end, she decided to submit her thesis again regardless countless rejection, writing a letter to her supervisor saying, “I had done my best to complete the thesis, and I don’t care if you would reject it again”. Finally her supervisor accepted her work, and writes a personal letter to congratulate her. Despite countless failure, she still push on and proud of the moment even after 20 years. If she gives up, she is not just loosing her doctorate, but loosing confidence and faith in herself. When she succeeds, she gains tremendous confidence and respect. She had a classmate who suffers the same fate of rejection as her, who didn’t get her doctorate until today. She was so fearful of the rejection until it paralysed her, and she try to get her thesis until perfection of fear to be rejected again. Of course, the thesis can never be perfect, as those are different hand which write, and different eye which look at it. I am not sure what happened to my cousin’s classmate, but I believed the impact is there.

Now I am on my second wave of starting a software business again, picking up from where I last paused. It’s full of challenges as usual and making far less money, and I still feel giving up again could be quite “hurtful”. How long should I give it a try? Until I am satisfied perhaps, until I can answer to myself.

Is giving up an option? For something which we have passion and capable of doing it, I don’t think it’s an option. It has a lot to do with our pride and confidence in life. It’s not a matter of wining or loosing, but can we live with what we had done, or what we had left behind.

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