My Autobiography – Learning from Failures in Competitions

When I was young, I participated in a lot of competitions. I won some of them and lost others. But some experiences just stay in your mind. I wish to recollect few experiences where I lost in certain competitions, and the learnings from those in this article.

1. When I was in second standard, I was asked to participate in a Hindi recitation competition. But I did not want to as I was not familiar with the language, yet. But I was required to, as I was tied with someone else for the Student of the year award.

All I had to say were four lines – “Acche bacche nahin jagadte; Jaldi Sote Jaldi Jagte; Rote Rote Kabhi Na padte; Khoob Khelte Jaldi Jagte” – That was it! But I could’t go beyond the first line – I was standing before a huge crowd, blinking and having forgotten my lines!

I still remember how I felt back then – No one would want to be in such a situation. I was asked to get off the stage. Later, a teacher consoled me by saying that ‘At least you tried speaking in a language you didn’t know – Trying is important, whether you win or not’. Of course, I did not buy it at that time but thinking back after a few years, I thought she was right!

2. When I was studying in Fifth Standard, I participated in a drawing competition. I was considered a better artist, as I had already won a couple of prizes in drawing/painting. This time, my younger brother also wanted to participate. We tried to convince him against it, but he wouldn’t listen. So, he was allowed to participate alongside me. There were about 500 participants and I thought both of us had no chance of winning this one!

They gave a drawing (with an outline) and asked us to paint. My brother used crayons and completed his painting in less than twenty minutes. I used water colours and was not able to complete it even at the end of 30 minutes!

Since this was a huge competition, they had 10 consolation prizes and three main prizes. After all the consolation prizes were announced, we were about to go. Then they announced the third prize – My brother! We were all shell shocked!

I learnt not to underestimate others, after this incident. We actually went asked the organizers and came to know that ‘Colour combination’ was what they looked at, while selecting the winning entries. You never know, what talent is hiding where, and how it would surface!

3. When I was in the Fifth Standard, I participated in the 100 meter running race (for the fun of it), at the school level. Fifth and Sixth Standard students were in the same group and hence I didn’t fancy my chances. In the first round, I just started to run but was tackled (perhaps unintentionally) by a fellow runner who was supposed to stick to his lane, but did not. I remember flying for a couple of meters before I fell down. It was a huge and an embarrassing fall!

Fortunately, our school secretary was watching it from nearby and came to console me. He tied some cloth around my bleeding wound and told me, ‘I will give you another chance if you want to participate still (in-spite of the injury)’. Since you couldn’t refuse your school secretary, I agreed. I ran with the cloth tied to my leg and managed to cross four rounds and reached the final round to find that all the other runners were from sixth standard, and I was the only one from fifth standard!

Of course, I lost the final round but I found out that I could Run!! The school secretary personally came and congratulated me πŸ™‚ He also told one more thing earlier (when I fell down) which I still remember – ‘Never let an injury (disadvantage) become an excuse for not participating’!

4. Our school was a part of a group of ten schools and there was an Inter-School sports competition conducted once in a year. People participating from our school used to come in special purple T-Shirts and me being in the audience, used to admire them. I wanted to wear that purple T-Shirt at least once! There is nothing like representing your school!

But there was a catch – you needed to come within the first two positions to represent your school in a particular event. So, when I was in my 6th Standard I was considering my options – I didn’t stand a chance in the 100 meter dash as two students from another section were clearly running faster than me.

I spoke to my P.T master about this and he said since I could run quite fast, why not practice long jump? People from my group (5th and 6th Standard) were not concentrating on that event! He asked me to practice for one hour daily after the school was over.

I took it to heart and did practice (twice/thrice a week) long jump for six months, after school hours. And it showed – I came second in that year’s long jump competition! I was thrilled, and was so happy that I was going to wear that purple T-shirt that year and represent my school at the Inter-school sports event!

But, the guy who came third (in long jump) had already won the 100 meters dash and some other event. He had to participate in long jump in order to have a chance to get the individual championship medal for our school in this group! So, I was required to fore-go my opportunity to give him that chance!

What I learnt from this incident? No matter what you do, how hard you practice, how much efforts you put in, you need one more thing in the end – LUCK πŸ™‚

Destination Infinity

This ‘My Autobiography‘ Series is a part of my marketing efforts to sell my autobiography, which I will be writing after 31 years (when I am 60 years old). It will come out in the name of Destination Infinity. So, please buy it when it comes πŸ™‚

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26 Replies to “My Autobiography – Learning from Failures in Competitions”

  1. great
    yes its very common to forget lines first time.
    its important to understand no one is weak.
    like the narration as you described each incident

    1. Yeah, no one is weak. Fortune favours different people at different times – that’s all!

      Destination Infinity

  2. The teacher was right, DI, at least you tried.

    That is great! This was happening with my two sons. The elder one was a reserved type but very studious – intelligent. He had a very good name in school as well as among our relatives. The younger one didn’t bother to show his intelligence when he was in school. Now, his intelligence is coming out and the elder one is acknowledging it! As you said, you never know about the hidden talent of people.

    ‘β€˜Never let an injury (disadvantage) become an excuse for not participating’!’ Very good advice and applies to everybody!

    Yes, ‘Luck’ is very important, more than talent sometimes!

    You remember your school days, so clearly, great!

    1. I remember certain things/events from my school days. I want to record them here so that if I forget some of them, I can refer to these articles, later on when I write my Autobiography.

      Destination Infinity

        1. Yes. And you may not believe – I am trying to make my life more eventful so that the Auto-biography could be interesting!! πŸ™‚

          I used to tell this during my interviews for jobs when they ask, ‘What is your ambition?’ – After listening to my answer no one asked any further questions on it. πŸ™‚

          Destination Infinity

  3. My daughter (who is a very talented designer today) participated in childrens Art talent show when she was five. “The judges”were a bunch of people from industry and some others. Finally when the prizes were announced I found my daughter’s name was not there. I had seen her work and knew it was brilliant. I casually asked one of the so-called judges as to why. He said she was too young! I was shocked as I could see that the winners’ work was inferior to my daughter’s. As there had been no age limit in the competition I could not understand why these stupid people thought she was too young! It is not just this incident, but I have always believed that competitions are often heavily biased and subjective. The best may not win. The main thing is to believe in yourself and forge ahead. Have the ability to evaluate your own work. I know writers who have been rejected many times (JK Rowling) but finally got through. However the inverse also holds true. A person has to be able to see if the work is bad.

    1. Sometimes match-fixing does happen in competitions too…. People select the kids of relatives/ sponsors/ ‘well-wishers’ etc. But that happens more when a lot is at stake – like a huge amount of prize money, etc. I think we need to look at the motive of the people who conduct competitions – Is it done for commercial purposes only or is there a ‘common-good’ factor also involved in it?

      About a person judging their own work – its the toughest! We generally think that whatever we come up with are master-pieces!! πŸ˜›

      Destination Infinity

      1. Thats true what you say, but I feel that we do not have people who know what talent is. Once people go up the ladder because of some of the reasons you mentioned, they remain unable to judge real talent. Also insecurities will stop them from encouraging real talent. It is a vicious circle.
        Oh yes, I made a slight mistake in my comment. My daughter was three years old! πŸ™‚

        1. Oh my, that’s some talent!! Just for the sheer effort of a 3-year old, they should have given the prize to your daughter!

          I have thought quite a bit about your first point – talent not getting recognized. Sometimes, its better that it doesn’t get recognized – Fame, adulation & appreciation sometimes gets into our head, multiplies our ego and makes our work inferior. Or, gets us into unwanted trouble! Shakespeare never got recognized in his lifetime for his master pieces. Perhaps if he had, some of his later works might have been inferior?

          Can you imagine someone more successful than Shane Warne? His wife describes him of living in a ‘rarefied bubble’. Of course, the same might not be applicable for Sachin, but who knows – he may not be able to even accept / visualize a post-retirement life. The phase that follows after a very successful stint, is the most painful one. People can take any amount of stress while going up, but the least amount of stress while coming down hurts a lot.

          Of course I have deviated a lot from the topic – but I feel that we somehow get what we deserve. Good or bad, life just gives it to us. Sometimes its better that people are not recognized so that their talent might grow many fold, because of it. The people involved would love to see their creations, whether its recognized by others or not!

          Destination Infinity

  4. Wow you have very inspiring memories DI.. πŸ™‚

    β€˜β€˜Never let an injury (disadvantage) become an excuse for not participating’!’
    is indeed a great advice.

    One thing I do not agree with you is on the ‘Luck’. One best advice I have got, ‘Never blame luck for your failures’. Of course, I am not undermining your efforts that made you get second place.

    1. I meant luck more like – ‘do your work and do not expect the results’ – Bhagavad Gita style πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  5. Well we always leanrn when we Lose .. thats the way of life.. winner doesnot lenr anything from the win .. Thats my way of looking at it

    your teacher said hte right thing Participating and trying is more important.. So well done you…

    These days Luck matters too, or who you know πŸ™‚ talent takes a back seat …

    1. Winner doesn’t learn anything from the win – Sarcastic, isn’t it? We invest all the efforts / talents / time and everything else in order to win and achieve something, only to find that we have become proud and egoistic!

      But thats how eternal justice works. I think life is fair with everyone – both talented ones and not so talented ones!

      Destination Infinity

  6. Great learnings, DI. πŸ™‚ I can understand what you must have felt on the stage. Nothing can be more horrible than standing in front of an audience not knowing what to say. It’s brave of you to take it positively.
    As far as the last incident is concerned I think it was unfair of your teachers to stop you from participating. You had proved that your worth. But then luck is also a very important factor. πŸ™‚

    1. Well back then I was very upset, and didn’t take it positively, but it was some years later… And in the last incident, the guy who participated instead of me won that individual championship. Perhaps that was better for the school…

      Destination Infinity

  7. Nice.. you remember so many incidents? wow.. your autobiography will be very interesting to read πŸ™‚ I was really pathetic at sports, so never participated in them..
    But everytime we lose, we learn something in life. And yes for everything, luck matters a lot. Sad, but true.

    1. Luck and time (phase of life you are in at the moment) – both matter a lot. But some people feel that Luck = hardwork + patience. Perhaps!

      Destination Infinity

  8. I remember an incident though..I was the 2nd topper in my college, but they announced me as 3rd in the function. The prize they gave me was for 3rd topper but the certificate said 2nd. They cheated because the 3rd prize guy wanted 2nd prize. I felt so bad that day πŸ™

    1. Yeah, it should be difficult to concentrate nowadays! And perhaps it will be like that for the next three months…. πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  9. I was somehow the non-participating kind πŸ™‚ but once there was a compulsory on the spot essay competition and I , who was quite weak in Hindi, got the first prize!

  10. You should have participated in more competitions. I too would have been pretty much non-participatory, but my mother pushed me a lot!

    Destination Infinity

  11. I will definitely buy your autobiography, if for nothing else, to reciprocate the ‘kindness’ you showed by buying my book πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

    I just hope i live that long, though! πŸ˜€

    1. My autobiography will be much costlier than your book – It has to include all the costs of marketing time and energy spent for 31 years right? πŸ™‚ But there is some economic principle that says pricing a product low will give more profit as more people would buy it! I am too confused about these economics! So, let me wait for some more time to decide on that πŸ™‚

      BTW, all of us will live – I will invite you to my book’s launching ceremony πŸ˜€

      Destination Infinity

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