It is not easy being a child these days. Childhood is meant to be fun but times are changing and so are the varieties of pressure that kids today find themselves surrounded by. I’ve been reading quite a few articles in the news about children getting depressed at an alarmingly early age and so this is an apt time to write about Failure.
The greatest success stories in our generation and generations past all have one important thing in common. They were all big losers – great failures – at one time or another in their respective path breaking journeys. To lose in life is as common as breathing. From the moment we take our first breath to our last, the only thing certain about life is that we will experience loss at some stage or another. Every great success story from Mahatma Gandhi to Madame Curie to Muhammad Ali was born out of failure.
But here is the good news. No creature big or small is as good at failing and bouncing back as a human being. We have put that massive brain of ours to good use by learning from our disappointments and coming back stronger – well, hopefully anyway. Experience is nothing more than learning from lessons of the past and more often than not these lessons are of defeat – hence the saying “learn from your mistakes” was my parents’ favourite dinner line when I was growing up (although I’m pretty sure this line was ineffective on me).
At Bayside Sports, we teach our young students to embrace loss as a teacher and learn to work with it. The more comfortable the child, as an individual is with this philosophy, the stronger he or she becomes.
I remember well a story from 2013, the year we started the Academy. It is about one of our first students; a young boy with a passion for leg-spin. Any cricketer will tell you, that to master “leg-spin” is one of the most challenging aspects of the game, which is why a good leg-spinner is worth his or her weight in Gold and a great one is a rarity. Now this young boy, much to his father’s discontent wanted not to be a batsman as most boys in India do, but a leg-spinner. His father tried his best to convince Vishal (co-founder of Bayside Sports) and me, to encourage him to focus on his batting. So I made a compromise with this young lad and explained to him that since dad was “the bank”, he needed to spend a few minutes of the session batting, but to work even harder on his leg-spin so “we could show him some day”. This child relentlessly worked on his art. Spending up to an hour after training ended each evening, speaking with coaches, strategizing, practicing and toiling hard at his game. He failed repeatedly – in fact in the first year he could not land the ball remotely close to the right spot on the pitch. Fortunately his spirit stayed strong and about 18 months after he started with us, there were signs he was getting better. Soon he was selected for his school team and there was a related surge in his confidence. He would play games, get hit around the park and come back inside with a smile on his face knowing he would go back to the nets and practice to remove the errors. Basically, he was / he is unyielding.
It’s not like this child is an extraordinary case but an example of what is possible when you learn to embrace failure. Today he has completed 4 years with the Bayside Sports Academy and I challenge any decent adult batsman to face him in a net. I hope he will grow to become India’s greatest leg-spinner, but the key takeaway here is that there is no guarantee in life and therefore he may not even get the opportunity to represent India. But he is set for life because of his great attitude towards Failure and he will have more chance than most because he has made Failure his friend.
You see this in Sports, but it holds true for Life in general. If you’re going to fail, then “fail big.” Make the extra effort, put in the hard work, take the risks and learn the lessons. Fail big to succeed huge is a great mantra to inculcate in children. The moment children understand what this means, is the moment they begin to believe that there are greater things to come.
By Kyan R. Bharucha, Founder – Bayside Sports