Let’s Fail

Plan to fail so that we can win

Balpolam Idi
4 min readDec 27, 2023

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No one wants to fail at anything. But life is life and as long as you’re learning, you’ll fail. As a matter of fact, the newer the skill/venture, the higher your chances of failing at it, at least once. Ask Thomas Edison. And before you start throwing 7k kilos of God-forbid, Allah sawake and Olorun maje in my direction, just read on for a bit.

Now, there are different metrics for failure. Some of us go with the pass mark. For instance, if the pass mark is 45, and we score anything around 45>, it’s a pass. We’ll celebrate at just 45 and rest because we don’t like stress. If 44<, it’s a fail, we feel bad, and may even cry but then chin up and chant “we go again”. Then there are God’s favourite children who are striving for perfection. If the Distinction point is 70 and they get 69, their disappointment is only rivalled by Desmond Elliot’s performance in his constituency after a ‘stellar’ acting career.

Whichever camp you belong to, I bring you good news as a teacher. As for failing, you’ll fail (insert Lasisi’s Iyeme tune.) You’ll experience it. Hopefully not perpetually, but it is healthy for learning. To fail is to grow. It’s like falling when learning to walk or ride a bike. How did sage popstar Jordin Sparks say it? Oh yes! One step at a time, it’s like learning to fly or falling in love.

Whenever I tell people I wrote WAEC three times, they find it hard to believe. Hehe hehe! Me too e shock me oh, let me tell you. I had my first prolonged existential crisis during that season. After sitting for O levels four times, because of mathematics, I became quite familiar with failure (not in a manner of self-defeat or acceptance that I am a failure, but a familiarity with the two possible outcomes of trying anything — Heads or Tails.) Before this episode, the only other time I had ever failed anything was my first term of taking Arabic in JSS1 — story for another day. And though I applied very moderate efforts to my academic venture, I was always kinda a top student — within the first 10 out of 30. This was a surprise, given that my study pattern involved binging on novels all day and night and then hurriedly studying on the morning of the test or exam. But God dey for His children, even those with coconut heads.

Scenes from Gubi Dam, Bauchi, Nigeria

Why am I here talking about failure at the end of the year when everyone is putting up motivation and reminders to go harder next year? Because you need to plan to fail. Create room to re-evaluate and reassess some of the SMART goals you’re setting so that you can always improvise while you are executing them. Make contingencies and please and please, prepare your mind for when things don’t work out the way you want them to. This saves you heartache and precious time. One thing I repeatedly heard in all pieces of training I attended this year was to fail fast and fail foward i.e quick recovery in PE terms.

Before this 25th year where I saw shege da shegiya with my eyes, I had stopped caring about not getting things/opportunities because I strongly believed in God’s sovereignty and his involvement in my world. This didn’t mean I just folded my hands and waited for mails from heaven sprinkled with pixie dust and a cherubic chime on arrival. ✨ Rather, it just made me more resilient. Less given to bouts of sadness and quicker to bounce back from disappointments. It was not an immunity shot but it truly inoculated me. I am so glad I am back in that space again. Anything wey no enter my hand, no be my own and that’s okay.

So as you wrap up your year, here’s a tool I found so helpful for evaluation (those who know me know I LOVE feedback and reviews) and I recommend: Year Compass. Please plan to fail and fail fast in the coming days. May Light guide you and may the everlasting arms hands hold you up on difficult nights. I am always rooting for you.

Love, Ballie💖

I hope you enjoyed reading and I also hope you didn’t say God forbid while reading😂 even if you did, please don’t forget to clap (50 x)and share with others. I would love to know if you have had an epiphany related to failing. What was your most shocking experience with failure? How did you get out of it? My eyes are wide open waiting for your responses.

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Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.