Srinath Sridharan

Independent markets commentator. Media columnist. Board member. Corporate & Startup Advisor / Mentor. CEO coach. Strategic counsel for 25 years, with leading corporates across diverse sectors including automobile, e-commerce, advertising, consumer and financial services. Works with leaders in enabling transformation of organisations which have complexities of rapid-scale-up, talent-culture conflict, generational-change of promoters / key leadership, M&A cultural issues, issues of business scale & size. Understands & ideates on intersection of BFSI, digital, ‘contextual-finance’, consumer, mobility, GEMZ (Gig Economy, Millennials, gen Z), ESG. Well-versed with contours of governance, board-level strategic expectations, regulations & nuances across BFSI & associated stakeholder value-chain, challenges of organisational redesign and related business, culture & communication imperatives.

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Time To Pat Yourself & Celebrate Failures

The results of those competitive exams could show them their place in the overall All-India standing amongst the other student communities. Welcome to the rather harsh reality

It’s that time of the year. For students appearing for various competitive exams that could propel them from mass schooling to potential academic excellence. It could make them change their views on subjects they don’t want as their first choice for specialisation. It could get them into college of choice, or show them their place under the sun, at least for now.

The results of those competitive exams could show them their place in the overall All-India standing amongst the other student communities. Welcome to the rather harsh reality.

It is an ultra competitive world. It is a fast paced frenzied world. As a large populous nation, we will always face crowding and competition. Something that’s dichotomously both good and bad, for our youth to understand and accept.

Well, let’s start with a life lesson from this. Accepting defeat or failure. Accepting that disappointments will hurt. Accepting that it could spur you ahead with positive vigour. Accepting that one cannot succeed all the time. Accepting that there might be someone better than you at some point in time. Accepting that it’s a tough world indeed. Accepting that it’s not a judgement on your natural potential.

These acceptances are something that a generation of materialistic Indian parents forgotten to share with their kids; or a generation of children didn’t see the signs, and missed working harder.

Cradle to crushes to final-crash

As a populous nation, in India, we compete right from birth time - the need for a specific maternity hospital of choice, for those privileged; to availability of the doctor of personal preference. To crèche of choice, to school of aspiration, to subject of choice in college, choices of relationships and crushes and career, to career progress, to life choices, to final choice of peaceful transition to the life-after.

Well, each of these are choices that we aspire for. That we compete for, in most scenarios. And yet we have disappointments that life has a mind of its own.

Toughen up ! That’s the only way to survive. And yet one can be happy with life.


The human society judges a person from their successes. But a study of history and reading between the lines without bias, will showcase what we ignore constantly. We ignore studying “failure” as a topic. It scares us to think of “failure”. We shy away from it. With so much societal pressure to be successful in everything we do, it’s bound to be a negative energy. The attitude towards failure by people around us makes one avoid any prospects of failure. Then we get conditioned to avoid failure.

The world that we live in looks at failure as the big “F”. We almost never question someone on why they failed or what they learnt. We pick on them with a vengeance, for having failed. We don’t even judge. We almost pronounce “doomed” verdict with our societal behaviour.

No one person succeeds all the time. Not even that famous cricketer or your favourite Cine star. Thomas Edison, maybe the greatest inventor ever, on his multiple attempts to invent the electric light bulb said, “I’ve not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The bigger your aspirations are, the more lonely your journey will be. Differences in priorities may alienate you and you may likely not be understood too. Don’t lose heart. Liberating yourself from society’s norms, even if scary, is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Celebrate, for you learnt a lesson

Well, assumably if you get the academic preference you wanted, congratulations. That’s just the beginnings. But prepare for a tough road ahead. Tough with choices & confusion. Tough on you, for you might be unprepared to face them.

Well, if you failed your exam or did not get the competitive exam of your choice and hence taking a different academic progress plan. Celebrate. Yes, celebrate.

For in both cases, life has taught you something. That you need to prepare more. And outcome of a competitive exam is not just in you being smart. But that there are others smarter and sharper than you. Such is the real world.

Celebrate. For in your age now - anywhere between 15 years & 24 years - you have hopefully learnt a life lesson. That you cannot have stand-alone success in anything and everything. That you have to fiercely compete for everything in life. Nothing comes easy. Everything has a cost to conquer and price to pay !

Celebrate. For your turn to shine will come up. Not without hard work, preparation and heart burn.

Celebrate. For you have the learning that you need to sharpen yourself, skills, and capabilities. Not without your commitment to understand yourself better and deeper.

Celebrate. For its better to fail earlier, learn from it and to build a stable career ahead.

Celebrate. That this is a wake up call to reality.

Celebrate. That you have the people around you who trust in you, even if at this low point you don’t in yourself.

Celebrate. For this is going to shape the version 2.0 of you.

Welcome to reality. Welcome to a better you. You have a whole life ahead of you. Shape it, steer it.

The author is Corporate Advisor & Leadership Coach

Twitter : @ssmumbai

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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