Failure Must Not Be Stigmatized
By Komlan Aloysh
In this meritocratic society of ours, it is difficult to convince people that failure must not be stigmatized. The word failure has never had a good connotation or chance to better be understood. Of course, nobody likes failure; in fact, nobody should, but we need to try to understand how to overcome it, and that would require understanding what is it and de-stigmatize it for the good of society and creativity.
The understanding of failure varies by societies and even regions. In some societies, failure brings unforgettable shame to the family or community; thus, community members, even kids, dare not fail in anything they pursue. They must be perfect in order to avoid “bringing shame” onto their family or community. In this case, however, failure becomes the end of the road for them, and that hinders their sense of innovation or even creativity that requires constant trial and error. That also affects their sense of adaptation to difficult and changing situation.
In other societies, failure is embraced and considered as a way to learn, create, and experience in developing whatever one focuses on or pursues. In other words, it inspires creativity and innovation, and it encourages self-evaluation, adaptation, and constant growth and transformation. In those societies, entrepreneurship and innovation blossom, because society members are allowed to fail and learn their failures.
If we stigmatize failure and understand it as a roadblock, we stifle innovation and creativity in our society. If people cannot, in a slightest way, be allowed to fail and learn from it, we kill dreams that could solve many of our societal problems.
Why is Silicon Valley considered the hub of American entrepreneurship? It is not because of the size of companies created there, nor because it is different in any way from other places. How did technology giants like Steve Jobs and Evan Speigel become so successful despite their many failures? The reason is that failure is not stigmatize and they were willing to start over; failure is considered as an experience to do better. Most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs see failure as an experience to learn great lessons, not a roadblock. You fail the first time or even many times to do better. Failure is part of the process of creativity and innovation.
Why am I so focused on failure? I have come to understand that failure is considered as the end of the road, and unfortunately, many great ideas that could have transformed societies have died on this road. I want to change that. I want to peel off the stigma that perceives failure as a roadblock not as a lesson that must be learnt. I want to let people see failure as an experience, which one can learn from and develop to become even better. Let it be an inspiration, not a roadblock!
QuincyB and Traffic Safety in Liberia
By Komlan Aloysh
Liberia sits in grief as it mourns one of its rising stars, #QuincyB, whose untimely death in a car accident on March 3, 2017 in Monrovia took the country by surprise. Social media exploded with shock and grief in remembrance of this young and talented artist. His smiling face splashes across social media with #RIPQuincyB. Liberians on Facebook and Instagrams are expressing deep shock about the story circulating on their newsfeeds. And some are sharing stories of their affinity for his work in Liberian music, while others have resulted to using his photos as their profile pictures as remembrance of him and his music that touched them. QuincyB is being remembered across Liberia and the diaspora as humble and talented, one who dedicated his talent to moving the nation beyond its wretched past. Indeed he accomplished that. Liberians across the world have turned inward to their music – the Liberian music filled with Liberian English. However, the cause of his death [in a tragic car accident] raises important questions about the state of traffic safety and regulations in Liberia.
When I read about this young man's death as a car accident, I was quickly reminded of my short experience with motor vehicle safety in Liberia. Certainly, mine was not anything near fatal as QuincyB's sadly was, but it struck me deeply how driving in the country was and still is dangerous - especially at night and during rush hours.
I had just landed in the country from Accra, Ghana, and my [ex]-girlfriend lifted me from the airport on a cloudy mid-evening. My travel from Accra was longer than anticipated, for it came with a few delays due to technical issues. We spent much of the evening trying to find a place to dine. She was driving, and I was deeply concerned and nervous about the way she was driving; it appeared too reckless to me. And those who drove pass us were not better either. It seemed like a complete chaos.
It was just a few minutes after 21:00 hours, and we were headed home after dinner. I couldn’t recognize where we were because I was not quite familiar with the city, having arrived just few hours before. But I was quite certain that it must have been one of the major streets in the city. I didn't think it was Broad Street.
She had just turned right on a green at the traffic light when a car ran the red light and struck the driver side of our vehicle and nearly took off the view mirror. She quickly pulled over, so did the other car. The damage was not severe. She tried to rush out of the car, but I held her back trying to calm her down, for I was aware of road rages and their deadly outcomes. I wanted her to be calm before we got out of the car, but surprisingly, the gentleman had gotten out of his car, completely intoxicated with gibberish speech as he tried walking towards us. He could barely stand nor move away from his car that protected his wobbly standing. His aggressiveness and shouting enraged my [ex]-girlfriend, and they both began to scream at each other uncontrollably. No one could make up anything he was saying; he was too drunk, and sadly he was driving with three others in the car - all of whom I suspected were drunk and sound asleep. I tried calming my [ex]-girlfriend, and at least try to make the conversation more civil -- get to make sure that the gentleman understood what he had done. I guess I was wrong. One can never talk sense into a drunken man. The shouting was too strong enough. All I did was stand in a position that was better enough for me to protect her if he attempted to reach her. But he was too drunk to understand what he was saying.
Realizing that the conversation was going nowhere, I asked my [ex]-girl to put an end to the meaningless altercation. It certainly was a road rage but the gentleman couldn't make up a complete sentence. In the car, she said something that deeply struck me. She said, "The reason he got out of his car was to make sharp mouth, knowing that he was wrong. I know you're too diplomatic and want to fix things and have civil conversations, but in Liberia, sharp mouth wins even if it is wrong and not saying anything logical."
The details of QuincyB's death are yet to emerge, but with the information that we have now which seems to be a tragic car accident, I am very concerned about the traffic safety in the country. The lack of traffic regulations related to drunk driving and other issues should be of major concerns to everyone and must be addressed.
QuincyB will always be remembered in our hearts. He will be remembered for leading a fledgling nation into a new era -- drawing a bright spotlight on its untapped talents and creativity.
We all mourn QuincyB with heavy hearts, and we should, but the question that lingers is how do you prevent losing another QuincyB? If Liberia truly wants to mourn and honour QuincyB and others, it has an easy decision to make, which I believe QuincyB too would appreciate as a memorial, and that must be taking traffic safety and regulations very seriously. That will prevent untimely and fatal accidents that claim young and creativity lives in Liberia. Let’s love and thank QuincyB for his talent and melodious voice that put hearts and minds quietly at peace, but we must also act as an honor to prevent his untimely tragedy from visiting anyone else in Liberia. To honor QuincyB, we must save ourselves.