“Madam ji, this is for you. We cannot pay the fees but we can pay you like this.” A doe-eyed little girl carrying a bucket of warm milk stood on my door step. That girl not only opened the door to my room but also my eyes to the reality that my project, a language training center in my home village of Dandot, Pakistan, was beginning to make a difference in someone’s life. I had received the highest reward—the gratitude of that girl was priceless.
This was the beginning of SunShine, an educational initiative I started as a response to the dire need for education in my home town. We initiated our first “school within a school” concept with a selection of twenty students. Today we have 800 students in two villages and we continue to grow.
Starting my career in the private sector and moving into the development sector, I eventually created my own path in social entrepreneurship. Along the way, I have seen some success and plenty of failure. I have learned that success is directly proportional to the attempts made for it. In the face of failure, hope is a wonderfully powerful emotion. It puts you back on track whenever you lose the sight of your goal. I have had a recent series of failures in my project’s implementation and financing. However one thing has kept me going. I have seen that belief and conviction is the key to success. Despite these recent issues, I have come to realize that I am happy for what I am doing even when the setbacks get me down.
History is filled with examples of people, from Thomas Edison to Oprah Winfrey, who failed miserably and repeatedly before finding success. Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball, but refused to give up on his dream, once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Life is full of successes and failures, but in my experience, the worst failures are still better than the regret of not even trying for what you hope to accomplish. Today as I work to reconfigure my organization and my strategies for bringing better education to Pakistani schoolchildren, I am uncertain about which path is best to take. Yet one thing that is clear is that I will try my best to make it work and will not lose hope.
So to all my friends out there, don’t let failure hold you back. Get up, strike back and fail better; for success is sometimes wrapped in your passion and belief and above all your unalterable conviction that it is possible. Don’t fear failures; they are the first step to success.