Start Sleeping to Stop Failing

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I will tell you why, but first…

Failure has been given different meanings and interpretations by different persons at different times and circumstances. It seems that failure is more conspicuous than success.

We worry about it, strive to avoid it, and question ourselves, sometimes mercilessly, every time we perceive that we failed. From the summation of how different philosophers have presented failure – failure is both good and bad, also both inevitable and avoidable.

Some failures have even been described as successes. This is illustrated in the familiar narrative that the scientist who invented the electric bulb after failed several attempts, succeeded in knowing that those numerous pathways could not lead to the invention.

Literarily put, ‘failure is the neglect or omission of expected or required action’

However, it depends on the expectation that is omitted.

Is it the omission of the desired target, the non-recognition of the omission of set targets, or the inability to see the failure as a form of success?

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Recently, I had a revealing and interesting experience of ‘inability to recognize omission of the set targets’. It was happening at the funeral ceremony of my respected elderly relative who lived with multiple celebrated chieftaincy and religious titles.

We had an explosive host of guests to host in line with our culture and traditions. There was endless planning and no professional project management person. The constraints of time, budget and scope had their field day. All through three days before the event to the D-day, as a lead stakeholder I was involved with the coexisting planning, execution, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the event activities.

Because of probable inexperience in handling such events and not prioritizing the need for quality sleep, I barely could have quality sleep. At some points, especially on the event day, my actions were filled with aggression, conflicts and clumsiness, with the execution and coordination of activities becoming more difficult, more tasking and more draining in a manner I could not explain. All I could easily express was, “It is not easy at all”

The climax of the show was on the day after the event. I was in charge of logistics for the guests’ return journeys, especially the connections to the airport according to flight schedules. Excusably, as the day broke and progressed, I was extremely exhausted and drowsy.

A knock at my hotel door woke me up from an unplanned shallow nap around midday. A female housekeeper had come for the routine cleaning of the room. I excused her for her duties and relocated to my friend’s nearby hotel room. That was the last vivid event I could remember until I woke up from a deep slumber late in the evening at about 6 o’clock.

My memory immediately became sharper with the recall of all undone things including the coordination of airport shuttles for the departing guests, which by this time would translate to missed flights. Have you overslept into the time for a timed event like going for exams, to school, or catching a flight? That was the kind of unpleasant feeling I had.

With tense anxiety, I dashed out to my room and reached for my mobile phone to embrace my shortcomings. I had several missed calls from the guests and airport taxi drivers. The first return call I made revealed that the guests’ shuttle to the airport had been thankfully sorted out. The guests had connected to the drivers whom they were linked up to during arrival to fill up the void created by their unresponsive calls to me.

Luckily, I escaped the disaster of the flight misses. My head became very clear, such that I could recognize the omissions around the events. Suddenly, further executions and coordination, including rectifying some earlier omissions, turned simpler and more fun. The unplanned quality sleep got me re-energized and restored my brain functions of memory, reasoning and mood. It stopped me from further failing and, ultimately, corrected my failing to recognize that I had been failing!

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