If you ask a hundred children what their dream is, not a single one would say “I want to be successful”. But as children grow up and enter society, society advises them that dreams do not feed them. And so, children slowly lose their innocence and dreams and choose to chase success instead. Why? Because success will feed them and give them a secure future. It is uncommon to find a middle-aged person who has achieved their childhood dreams. The majority judge their dreams as unrealistic, put them away in a corner of their mind and sacrifice happiness to earn more money to feed the family. The child who wanted to become a painter who put the world on a canvas follows her parents’ advice and becomes a lawyer. The child who wanted to become an astronaut is working into the night at a bank so that he will be promoted. They devote themselves to work and strive to succeed. But when they are at their deathbed, the only thing they are left with is regrets.
In life, there is no success or failure. The only moment you will know whether you led a successful or failed life is when you are at your deathbed. No one else can judge whether you were a success or a failure. Whether you were rich, poor, famous, average, lived long or died prematurely, you were a success if you can end your life with this thought: “Yeah, I lived a happy life without regrets”.
Live without regrets.
Han Suk-Bong is a famous writer from the Joseon Dynasty (Korea during 14th to 19th century), who was praised as “the master writer of the East” even in the Ming Dynasty (China during 14th to 17th century). His writing and calligraphy were partly thanks to his inborn talent, but also because of his intense training and practise throughout his life. There is a famous story regarding his training.
Han Suk-Bong practised calligraphy since a young age by himself, practising every day. The villagers all praised his talent and his mother sent him to a famous temple to study. After four years of studying, Han missed his mother so much that he sneaked out during the night and returned home. When he told his mother that he there was nothing more for him to learn, she told him to turn the lights off and said: “I will slice rice cakes while you write, then we will compare our skills”. After the two silently did their best work in the darkness, they turned the light on and it was evident that Han’s letters were all crooked and unsightly while his mother’s rice cakes were perfectly sliced in even thickness. Han deeply repented his arrogance and realised there was so much more to learn. His mother told him off and told him not to set foot in the house again until he could write perfectly even with his eyes closed, just as she could slice rice cakes perfectly. Thanks to his mother’s passion for his education, Han became one of the most well-known masters of calligraphy and literature in the Far East.
The best type of parent is one who identifies a child’s natural talents early on and helps them develop those skills. If the child becomes lost, loses their way or fall into the pit of arrogance believing they are the best, it is the parent’s duty to correct them. The moment you believe that there is nothing more to learn, you become a failure.
The following is an incidental finding from an experiment studying conditioning in dogs. In stage 1, a dog was tied on a leash in a room with electrified floors to prevent it from running away and was shocked for a day. Next, the dog from stage 1 and another dog were left in the same room without any leashes, leaving the door opened so that they could run away when they were shocked. Although the dog that did not pass stage 1 (fresh dog) immediately ran to the next room, the dog from stage 1 just helplessly lay down on the floor, receiving the electric shock. In stage 3, the same dog from stage 1 was taught that going to the next room prevents it from getting shocked. However, even after learning this, the dog refused to move and stayed in the room and accepted the shock. It had learned helplessness.
Everyone has depressing moments in their lives, but when these repeat over time it can cause you to feel that life is an inescapable pit of despair. You will learn a sense of helplessness that no matter what you do, the result will be failure and disappointment. But the moment you accept this helplessness, the nightmarish fate that you loathe so much becomes reality. There is no such thing as fate or destiny. If you do not like the fate given to you, free yourself the restraints of life, break away from the fetters and pioneer a new future for yourself.
An airplane flying across the sky faces many dangers. But a very common yet not well-known type of accident is the bird strike. Just as the name suggests, a bird strike is when a plane collides with a flying bird. This may not sound so dangerous, but considering a plane typically flies at 800~900km/h, the energy from the collision is quite significant. If a plane flying at 800km/h collides with a 5kg bird, the energy generated is 92 tonnes. This is not only enough to instantly kill the bird, but also enough to damage the plane.
The most common type of bird strikes is when a bird collides head-on with the windshield or gets sucked into the engine. The latter can cause severe damage to the engine and even cause it to fail. For example, in 1960 a plane flying above Boston collided with a flock of starlings, leading to all four of its engines failing and causing it to crash, killing 62 passengers. Since birds typically fly below an altitude of 9000m, bird strikes most often occur during take-off and landing. However, there are case reports of much higher altitude crashes, with the record being held at 11300m.
According to statistics, the most common type of bird involved are waterfowls and gulls, with 15% of bird strikes being severe. Bird strikes cause $1.2 billion worth of damage annually worldwide and has cost 200 lives since 1988. The first bird strike occurred with the invention of the airplane, as recorded by the Wright brothers (inventors of the modern airplane). As bird strikes cause so much damage, airports place many countermeasures to prevent them. The most frequently used methods are driving away birds from runways by using scarecrows and other methods, or modifying the plane and engines to be more bird-resistant.
When inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison succeeded after more than 2000 experiments. A young reporter asked how he felt every time he failed, over and over.
Edison replied: “Fail? I have never failed. I have merely taken two thousand steps to invent the light bulb.”
You have never failed. You are just taking the steps to success.