Failure: The Key To Success

Last week Friday in South Africa was dubbed Juju Friday. A day dedicated to poking fun at the firebrand leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress. On Twitter, this was a trending topic with thousands of individuals poking fun at his rhetoric, his questionable statements and continuing to spread unproven facts about his life that have now become conventional knowledge. This entire exercise produced one result: increasing his chances of being a future president of South Africa.A few days ago, I was at a coffee shop in central Johannesburg that I usually go to for daily newspaper reading, during my lunch break. Sitting next to me was an Afrikaans man who mentioned that when he reads the paper, he feels like he is going to die tomorrow. We started talking about the state of the nation and entrepreneurship, and how to build this nation, but the comment that he gave about the newspaper stuck with me. A well known truth about media is that bad news sells. Few people want to read about how the number of US students in South African universities has increased, which shows the strength of higher education in South Africa; or of how Joburg city parks received an international greening award. On the contrary, news is more interesting when we hear of how Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu incoherently justify the nationalisation of mines, or how the Democratic Alliance allegedly neglected to cover the toilets they put up in communities. Because of this, if an individual would like to be a public figure, the best thing he can do is to do something wrong, and we as the electorate will fast track him  into power. A culture has developed of whining and complaining, and is strengthened when done by large masses of people. The more we whine and complain and talk about why everything is not as it should be, and why someone is doing something wrong, the more it becomes part of who we are. It seems that we have become a people who look for flaws in everything, and rarely praise a  job well done. The result of this is that those who mess up become more famous, and those who constructively do good and build the nation disappear into national insignificance. When election time comes around, the vote isn’t for the stronger party, but instead for the lesser of a few evils. During the last election, from many discussions I had with individuals, people voted for a party not because of its strong points, but because of the weaker points of the other parties which they felt they would not be able bear with. I’m not proposing smiling and pretending that everyone is angelic and doing an absolutely amazing job. What I am proposing is objectively looking at individuals, constructively criticizing their weaknesses, and praising their strengths and the good they have done/aredoing. The result of this is that the worst of the flock will not be at the top of our recollections, and the people who are capable will more likely come to power.

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