By Henrylito D. Tacio
WHEN I was still in high school, my teacher once asked me to join an essay writing competition. I wrote an essay, which I thought was the best I had ever written. But to my dismay, I failed to get the top prize - not even a consolation.
When I started writing, I saw an advertisement about a prestigious journalism contest. I wrote a very comprehensive feature on a sustainable upland farming system. Once it was published in a national daily, I submitted the article to the said contest. As expected, I emerged a loser!
Since then, I told myself not to write to win an award. I will write because I have something to convey to readers. Or, I have a technology to share. Or, I have a story to tell. Or, I have a solution for a certain problem. Or, I have a joke or two to tickle my fans.
Of course, I have to write the articles - long or short - as if they were my last pieces. Then, some strange events happened. One after another, I received the awards that eluded me through the years. In 1999, I was elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute (for winning the prize five times).
Also, in 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila handpicked me as the recipient of the coveted Journalist of the Year. The citation reads: "For his remarkable expertise in the field of science and technology, agriculture, and environmental journalism which is characterized by an extensive research as well as a commitment to the popularization of complex issues."
Edward Simmons reminds, "The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly right and doing a thing exactly right."
But why I am writing this piece? Well, I have just read an article written by Larry Dorman, which appeared in 'The New York Times.' It happened in 1996. Millions of people reportedly watched as Greg Normal blew a huge lead in the Masters golf tournament that year, losing to Nick Faldo.
After the debacle, Norman says he experienced "the most touching few days"
of his life. People from all over the world contacted him with words of encouragement. He received four times as much mail as when he won the British Open three years earlier.
"It changed my total outlook on life and on people," Norman says of his defeat. "There's no need for me to be cynical anymore. My wife said to me, 'You know, maybe this is better than winning the green jacket (given to those who win the Masters golf tournament). Maybe now you understand the importance of it all.' I never thought I could reach out and touch people like that. And the extraordinary thing is that I did it by losing."
How true indeed were the words of the late American president Richard M.
Nixon: "Success is not a harbor but a voyage with its own perils to the spirit. The game of life is to come up a winner, to be a success, or to achieve what we set out to do. Yet, there is always the danger of failing as a human being. The lesson that most of us on this voyage never learn, but can never quite forget, is that to win is sometimes to lose."
Ideas about failures abound. W.A. Clarke considered failure as "the line of least persistence." Richard Morgan contends, "We who do less than our best have failed as surely as those who attempt nothing. The only difference is in the degree."
"Success makes us intolerant of failure, and failure makes us intolerant of success," said William Feather. Thomas Alva Edison urges, "Show me a thoroughly satisfied man - and I will show you a failure."
Bill Vaugh shares these words of wisdom: "In the game of life, it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season."
Here's another one from Howard W. Newton: "When a man blames others for his failures, it's a good idea to credit others with his successes."
Norman Shidle explains: "It is a rare person who doesn't hope responsibility for his failures will fall on somebody else. It is normal to want to shift blame for our troubles. But shifting isn't easy to do.
People don't fool easily. It isn't even easy to fool oneself. Besides, shifting the blame serves no practical ends. It means talking about troubles instead of remedies, about past problems instead of future plans."
Some people, however, can dismiss failures humorously. Comedian actor W.C.
Fields once said: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it."
There's no better education than one's own failures. There is a true story about a project manager at IBM who lost the company ten million dollars.
Dejectedly, he walked into the president's office and said, "I'm sorry.
I'm sure you'll want my resignation. I'll be gone by the end of the day."
The president's response showed his understanding of the value of failure.
He said, "Are you kidding? We've just invested ten million dollars in your education. We're not about to let you go. Now, get back to work."
William A. Ward points out: "From failure can come valuable experience; from experience - wisdom; from wisdom - mutual trust; from mutual trust - cooperation; from cooperation - united effort; from united effort - success."
Perhaps the biggest failure I could think of happened to Jesus Christ. The devil attempted Jesus Christ to denounce His Father three times. The devil failed. But wanting to silence Jesus Christ, he had Him crucified. His death was the end of His life on earth.
But it was the death of Jesus Christ that saved the world from total annihilation. John 3:16 states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."