The art of failure

The current society has become so much of accomplishment oriented thus the inability to overcome challenges is regarded as failure. Failure takes different forms, which are by all standards, not of the same magnitude as most people assume. Performance that is not up to the expected standards does not necessarily allude to failure. This calls for the exploration of the reasons for such a trend.

Most people have a tendency to collapse when pressure is exerted on them. Whereas pressure is intended to help in optimum production, it sometimes culminates in crumbling. The 1993 Wimbledon final pitting Jana Novotna against Steffini Graf poses a clear scenario of this. The less experienced Novotna was leading in the final set and requiring just one game to win her first, major career, title.

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Novotna went ahead to produce numerous unforced errors that cost the game and a chance to bag game’s most prestigious title. The thought of winning her first career major against the most decorated player of the time took a toll on her. The errors that she made could not reflect the professional know how of tennis that had propelled her all the way to the conclusion of the championship. Pressures makes one panic or choke as it is prominently referred to in sports circles.

However, there is an indistinguishable line drawn between choking and panicking as they are different forms of failure. Panic causes a significant contraction of one’s mind making the resultant actions more instinctive than thoughtful. This makes one act conventionally in regard to the situation at hand.

John F Kennedy Junior lost his life due to panic. While trying to land while flying his plane, he crushed into an ocean after he lost track of the guiding lights on the island. In this case, he should have employed the knowledge he had acquired from his flying classes to avert the disaster.

On the contrary, John might have become desperate and just lay back or acted instinctively as crash reports indicated. Within a couple of seconds, the plane went down, and Kennedy junior and his wife perished.

Choking as a form of failure is more concerned with the surrounding conditions, as opposed to the athlete involved. A sports champion should not only be able to conquer the opponent but also the pressure of the spectators.

In the 1993 finals, questions still abound to, what if the spectators who included the royalty were to be removed at that point in the game; could Novotna still have lost the match? However, that is not possible because the spectators form an integral part of the game.

Investigations by psychologists at Stanford University have established that varied groups yield results differently under pressure. While administering a test to diverse students on the basis of rational capacity, the whites were found to perform better. However, when the same test was administered but not as a measure of ability, the disparity in results did not occur.

This is a typical case of choking under pressure among the blacks to prove their scholarly capacity. They tend to over think during the test leading to failure. Working hard in such an instance can’t solution as it is an environmental cause triggering the failure and not lack of knowledge.

Choking and panicking are, in fact, found to be totally contrasting. Whereas panicking entails little thought, chocking involves a lot of thinking because it is influenced by external factors. In panicking, a lot of instinctive actions are executed while chocking does not apply any instincts. Failure should, therefore, be distinctive in accordance with the circumstances.


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