BABY giraffes never go to school. But they learn a very important lesson rather early in life. A lesson that all of us would do well to remember.
The birth of a baby giraffe is quite an earth-shaking event. The baby falls from its mothers womb, some eight feet above the ground. It shrivels up and lies still, too weak to move.
The mother giraffe lovingly lowers her neck to smooch the baby giraffe. And then something incredible happens. She lifts her long leg and kicks the baby giraffe, sending it flying up in the air and tumbling down on the ground. As the baby lies curled up, the mother kicks the baby again. And again. Until the baby giraffe, still trembling and tired, pushes its limbs and for the first time learns to stand on its feet.
Happy to see the baby standing on its own feet, the mother giraffe comes over and gives it yet another kick. The baby giraffe falls one more time, but now quickly recovers and stands up. Mama Giraffe is delighted. She knows that her baby has learnt an important lesson: Never mind how hard you fall, always remember to pick yourself up and get back on your feet.
Why does the mother giraffe do this? She knows that lions and leopards love giraffe meat. So unless the baby giraffe quickly learns to stand and run with the pack it will have no chance of survival. Most of us though are not quite as lucky as baby giraffes. No one teaches us to stand up every time we fall. When we fail, when we are down, we just give up. No one kicks us out of our comfort zone to remind us that to survive and succeed, we need to learn to get back on our feet.
If you study the lives of successful people though, you will see a recurring pattern. Were they always successful in all they did? No. Did success come to them quick and easy? No, no! You will find that the common streak running through their lives is their ability to stand up every time they fall. The ability of the baby giraffe!
Have you heard about a young sales executive from Kolkata who dreamt about becoming an announcer on radio? He auditioned with All India Radio for a job. The authorities felt that he didnt have a particularly good voice and he was rejected. He refused to accept defeat and continued to chase his dream.
He tried for a role in the movies. He got rejected. They thought he was too tall. He kept trying and got a few lucky breaks. But most of his early films flopped. He did not give up. He played an angry young man in a movie that became a super hit. And the failed radio announcer went on to become the countrys biggest superstar widely admired for his baritone voice! His name? Amitabh Bachchan.
The road to success is never an easy one. There are several obstacles, and you are bound to fall sooner or later. You will hit a road block, you will taste failure. But success lies in being able to get up every time you fall. Thats a critical life skill. And its the habit of all successful people.
Learning to win in life is quite like learning to ride a bicycle. As you start to ride, you might fall and get bruised. It doesnt matter. You need to get back up and continue to ride. Fall one more time? Get back up again. Thats all it takes. Learn to get back up every time you fall.
And just remember one more thing. Next time you find a friend or a parent kicking you, dont get upset with them. Like the mother giraffe, they may only be trying to teach you one of lifes most important lessons. It doesnt matter how many times you fall. What matters is your ability to pick yourself up and stand on your feet once again.
Prakash Iyer is MD, Kimberly-Clark and Executive Coach.