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From defeat comes victory!

Huzaima Bukhari

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even”—Muhammad Ali (Clay).

The ‘Cambridge Dictionary’ explains the meaning of ‘defeat’ as “to win against someone in a fight, war or competition.” For example: “Napoleon was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.” The winner takes it all but what about the one, who loses, the one defeated? In a battle, he could either be killed or imprisoned and in a competition, he goes away with nothing. In this situation one can imagine two extremes. One, where he may feel totally depressed and goes in a state of annihilation and the other where his spirits experience a complete rejuvenation urging him on to accomplish his broken aspirations.

We are humans and prone to get affected by our defeats, lost expectations and unfulfilled wishes. On such occasions, nothing seems to provide consolation. Comforting words of family and friends fall on deaf ears. Resorting to spirituality in certain cases also becomes ineffective causing further frustration. What can be the solutions to ward off these feelings? To scramble out of these blues it is suggested to have a little chat with yourself because the only best friend in your life is you. You should question yourself whether you are the core around which the world revolves—most certainly not. Are you realistic about the causes of your pain and defeat; do you recognize and admit your drawbacks or your shortcomings or you find it more convenient to blame others?

One moment of crisis is never the end of the world. Where there is a problem, there definitely is a solution and instead of grumbling or complaining, one should set one’s mind on finding a way out. If one quality you possess does not work, develop another but do not waste your time. Think about change. Sometimes, a most insignificant idea can result in wonders. The only obstacle in the path to success is you, no one else. Conquer the self then the sky would become the limit.

Sometimes from the ashes of defeat rises an inextinguishable fire that blazes forth victory for the perseverant. Marie Curie is one such woman who never succumbed to the series of failures while in search for radium. Among famous persons who emerged triumphant despite being battered by fiascoes are Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of USA after losing 26 election campaigns; JK Rowling, author of the popular Harry Potter series; Ludwig von Beethoven, musician par excellence; Michael Jordan, basketball player; Stephen King, bestseller author; Fred Astaire, actor/singer/dancer declared as unable to do any of these things in his first screen test; Charles Darwin, who propounded the theory of evolution; Oprah Winfrey, a television personality whose story of rags to riches is well-known.

Even today, those who appear at the zenith of success, wealth and power are idolized and many draw inspiration from them, yet all these are not achieved overnight, something which their admirers and followers need to understand. Only minuscule percentages are born with a silver spoon enjoying money and fame given to them on a gold plate. The rest have to struggle real hard for achieving that level. Such is the rigorous demand for true accomplishment, a concept that was aptly penned by Allama Iqbal in this verse:

Mita day apni hasti ko agar kuchh martaba chahiay

Keh dana khaak may milkar gulo gulzar hota hai


Eliminate your ego if desirous of a high stature

For efflorescence, seed mixes with dust to nurture  

Live, forgetting about your existence giving least importance to your ego like that seed, when sown in the ground, perishes only to give birth to a new life, a new blossoming plant or a fruit bearing tree. An open secret to eternal success! For the optimists, each failure is motivational— an important learning experience. The thought of imminent success drives them ahead. They correct earlier faults and aspire to improve themselves with each passing day. Obstacles are just stepping stones and leg-pullers are to be ignored. They are aware that attention to their work is far more vital than seeking attention. Being in the limelight is a by-product of one’s labour and perseverance.

When competitors are poised against each other for a race to attain certain objectives there is a dire need to maintain a moral balance even if it does not fit the principles of the street smart thinkers. As long as a person is self-sacrificing and not being ambitious at the expense of others, all is forgiven and forgotten. It is easy to vie with others but what when the opponent is no one else and we find ourselves face to face with our own dreams, desires and wishes before which, many a times our souls suffer defeat. In our eagerness to touch the stars, we become prone to taking short-cuts because we think that others are rapidly racing ahead of us.

We often end up in a quagmire of cravings that force us to perform against established norms in a bid to realize those wishes. The unfulfilled desires are so overwhelming that all sorts of right and wrong measures are taken to satiate them. We think that we are victorious but the reality is otherwise. Using unscrupulous methods to achieve success means that the person has actually been defeated by his own self-interest. This is never permanent nor does it attract an honourable disposition. No matter how wealthy one becomes or reaches a high status through notorious means, the fact is that people are bound to make fun of him behind his back and sometimes even on his face. Members of the public may feel awed by one who is wealthy or who has power but the ones to draw respect from all echelons of society are perhaps only the knowledgeable persons—true intellectuals, scholars and professionals—and the stoics.

These people may have, at some turn in their lives, felt defeated or frustrated possibly on the monetary front but having conquered their self, having conquered their negativity, they manage to harness their abilities to make an indelible mark in this world and enjoy eternal victory.


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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