Importance of handling failure:
I was struck long ago by an article where I read that some elite military squad in Australia does not take people who have never tackled failure. This means that exceptional people who have always won are not qualified to be part of their team. They need to know how a person can handle failure and how they cope with it.
I was watching Mahabharat, the much beloved BR Chopra production and realized this same fact while watching the dice game unfold between Kauravs and Pandavas. I was always unable to comprehend why Yudhisthir was not able to stop himself from continuing to play dice. Why a man who is supposed to represent Dharma itself could not stop from gambling. He knew what was happening, he was well read, disciplined and wise at many levels. Yet when the gambling match starts unfolding he completely succumbs to base instincts and keeps falling deeper into the trap sprung by Shakuni and Duryodhan. Why did he not see it coming?
It is only after many years of ponderance and connecting dots I have come to realize that it was because he had never tasted failure. Before the dyuut krida we don’t see any major failures on the feet of Yudhisthir. He is a young prince lauded by his elders from the start. He is loved by his brothers, mother and all. Even Dhritarasthra is never sure about Duryodhan, but he knows Yudhisthir is dependable. Yudhisthir personally has never faced failure to the point that he is able to perform Rajasuya yagya and become a Chakravarti maharaja. Once he has put his mind and effort to something, it would just fall into place. He plays Shakuni in Indrapastha and wins there establishing in his mind another competency check mark. He is unable to understand that he could possibly not have been taken for a ride by Shakuni and starts imagining his maharath even in the game of dice.
This is where his character flaw is exposed where yudhisthir is playing the game of dice he is unable to stop playing. He is not able to stop himself because he is unable to process losing soundly. He is so petrified by losing that he bets first everything he has. Followed by betting his brothers and then himself. He even bets something that was not his to bet, the wife of all 5 brothers. This is indeed a case study on why people who have never lost cannot be hoisted to leadership position without getting a knock or 2 into them. This is where we realize the importance of having failed in your attempt and learnt how to handle that kind of situation.
Maybe its an important leadership lesson on why it is important despite being supremely powerful and being a leader to remember that failure can happen to anyone. It is important to remember that handling failure and being in the bowels of darkness is as important as succeeding in what you do.
Note : This is a guest post by my dear friend Parth Pandya