The proverb means that success come through failures. He only fails who strives to do something. It is meant as an encouragement to those who fail in life, and to give them the urge to try hard, to build on the strong foundations of experience already gained. As the poet said –
Say not the struggle naught availed,
The labour and the wounds are vain.
They have got to try again and again in the face of failures. If they fail once, they will gain experience therefore that will help them in their second effort. But making use of these experiences they will grow wisher and feel surer. This is the foundation of success. Those who build upon the foundation of wisdom and self-confidence, will meet with durable success.
But the lesson is not confined to individuals. The greatness of a people is built up on the efforts of generation who have toiled and failed and striven and left the experience they have won by their forefathers had failed. – After all, the truly great are those who work not for immediate success that brings personal glory, but for a future that may not see but that will crown their failures with ultimate triumph.
In order to make failures the pillars of success, it is best to be warned of the cause of failures. The fool often fails because he thinks that success is easy. “Security is mortal’s chief’s enemy” confidence is good. But not conceit. For confidence gives strength, while conceit makes us easy-going. The man who thinks himself too wise may also fail, if he thinks what is difficult for others is easy for him. For then, he uses less strength than he should. He overreaches himself and fails. One the other hand, many fail because they are too nervous. They apprehend failure even before they have entered the fray. “There is no defeat in truth, save from within; unless you are beaten there, you are bound to win.” (Austin).
Hence, it is only when failures bring out best in us that they come to have an importance in life. Failures must be challenge to us to do our best, to try our utmost. We must face failures with the firm resolution to overcome them and succeed. In this view failures are regarded as an accident, - unpleasant as all accidents are, but they point the way to success. It is not an easy way perhaps, but it is a source way to success, if we take up the challenge of failures and try to overcome them.
In order to do this we need have to show certain mental qualities. First, we must be persevering. We must try again and again. We must ‘rise on the stepping-stone of our dead selves to something greater than before’. Secondly, we must have courage. We must have the will to victory. There must not any though of surrender. We must learn not to know when we are defeated. Once we admit defeat, our foundations are shaken, and we topple over all too easily. Thirdly, we must be optimists. We must have confidence that, in spite of failures, we will succeed, - if not today, tomorrow or the day after: if not in this generation, in the next that is coming. We must live not for ourselves but for an end, for an ideal, for a cause. Defeat belongs to a person, a cause can never die.
There is a heroism even in failure. – If it comes after a sincere struggle. If is good to see a man fail in the hour of victory, or even fail in the spite of all efforts. We may vary the words to Tennyson and say. –
It is better to have fought and lost,
Thus never to have fought at all.
We must be able to look back on our failures with pride for they are standing testimony to the heroism within us. This is possible if we feel that we have tried our best and have not spared ourselves in our efforts. Let us always feel that we have failed greatly. Then may we look forward with hope and believe that we shall succeed in spite of failures. That is the proper attitude to failures one should take up.
Failures of course, can be depressing and disheartening. When honest efforts end in failure, it is difficult to keep up one’s sprite “there is no fiercer hell,” said Keats, “than the failure in a great object.” It is then, “a salted wound that burns and burns against. The remedy against his is a strong spirit, an indomitable will, on unconquerable soul. Above all, one must meet the challenge of life with close-lipped heroism that knows not despair; and one rats be able to say with Lady Macbeth: “but screw you courage to the sticking-place and we will not fail.”