Added On: Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Knowing how to anticipate problems

When I was in my teens, my friends and I were addicted to arcade games. This is a pretty typical obsession with boys. I spent lots of my pocket-money on such games and even managed to win some of them.

In some ways, they're great training for certain aspects of life. Much of the success in such games comes from experience of playing them, and learning how to anticipate the problems that come up.

For example, the first time you have to fight a "big-boss" at the end of a level, he'll probably deploy some kind of weapon on you to totally annihilate you. But gradually, as you fight him again and again, you learn how to anticipate his actions. You can guess, or even be certain about how he's going to behave, and develop strategies for overcoming each attack. Soon, you can kill him with ease.

Much of success in real life is much the same. Failure and rejection in life can be brutal experiences. Like a new player up against a big boss, someone trying out relationships, careers, investment or anything else can quickly get annihilated. And the pain of such failure can be comparable to physical pain, a deep ache inside that can last weeks or even months.

Yet with each failure, you learn how to anticipate what's likely to happen next time. If you bought into risky stocks hoping for a high return, you know to be more cautious next time. If you lost the attention of someone you loved because of failing to react somehow, you know not to do that when a new love enters your life. If you missed out on that great job because you didn't know the answer to a particular interview question, you know to look that question up for the next opportunity.

While failure and rejection can be horrible experiences, making it seem as if your very soul is fading away, they contain the seeds of success. Failing is a harsh, but necessary, part of succeeding. Just as you're unlikely to beat the big-boss the first time you meet him in an arcade game, it's unlikely you'll come out ahead the first time you try things out in real life.

Indeed, what distinguishes most successful people from the average is the string of previous failures they've racked up. They've fought and been killed by the big-boss so many times, that they can now anticipate his every move and have a strategy in place for dealing with that situation. Nothing teaches as well as the sting of defeat.

That's why it's important to brace yourself for failure and rejection and face your vulnerabilities head-on. For paradoxically, fighting your way through this path of failure is the only way to find success.

And knowing this can help you philosophically deal with set-backs in life. While others cower in their shelters, avoiding failure and humiliation at all costs, you are brave enough to face them. You can let people laugh at your set-backs today, knowing that tomorrow they'll be envious of your achievements.

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