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Every human being goes through their own struggles and search for the meaning of life. Sicelo shares the lessons he has learnt from successful failures. Ultimately it all comes down to one thing: Purpose.

It’s often said that success isn’t a destination but rather a journey highlighting the fact that the process is often more important than the outcome. We often forget this and become disheartened when the journey is riddled with obstacles, failures, and setbacks. How does one stay committed to a dream or vision when effort doesn’t initially translate into a desired result? As I’ve come to learn it’s important.


I once came across a story where a young woman jumped off a bridge into a river in an attempt to commit suicide. A young man saw her jump from the bridge into the icy water. Overlooking the fact that he couldn’t swim, he instinctively leapt off of the bridge to save a fellow human. As he hit the water, he began to thrash around while gasping for air as he slowly began to drown. The young woman in her own anguish, momentarily forgot about her despair and began to swim towards him and managed to pull him ashore to safety.

Instead of ending her own life, she saved the life of another.

In one profound moment, she had found what she so desperately longed for.  She now knew the difference between having nothing to live for and having something to live for. Her life gained something it had lacked before: purpose.

In 2016 I found myself reflecting on this story while enrolling for BCTA after having passed my degree, but not sufficiently enough to qualify for honors (CTA). As difficult as it was, I’m grateful for the challenge. It taught me one of the most important lessons.

Purpose is the constant factor that will keep you on course to achieving your goals and aspirations.

Aimlessness is the quickest route to despondency and abandoning your set objectives. Time and time again we see that a great sense of purpose can carry you through turbulent times or be a catalyst to great achievement.

In the 1960’s, man achieved some of the greatest engineering and scientific advancements. This was not because this was an era gifted with engineers or scientists that were intellectually superior to similar industry experts of any other period. Upon closer inspection, one realizes that this was during the Apollo space mission period where NASA was working towards the first manned mission to the moon. These scientists and engineers had a strong sense of purpose. The purpose of putting human footprints on the moon.

Through their strong sense of purpose, they were able to achieve the seemingly impossible and produced work that humanity will rely upon for hundreds of years. Success isn’t an anomaly of life that’s exploited only by a select few, but rather the manifestation of believing that you are divinely purposed for something great. I’ve learnt that the journey to your purpose will be filled with triumphs and setbacks.

Success however, to be true, must always have an abiding sense of purpose.


In many aspects at the beginning of 2016, I felt I had failed and hit rock bottom. Ironically as J.K Rowling puts it, rock bottom is the best place to start building again. Experiencing failure has taught me not to be paralyzed or overcome by its burdening heaviness but rather to acknowledge that life isn’t linear where every hour, day and year is uniformly successful. Rather life is a journey where inevitably one will fail at some activities bearing testimony to the fact that success isn’t easy. This isn’t to say that that we should be content or settle for failure, only a fool glamorizes failure. However, in the unpopular silo that is failure, some of the most important lessons are learned. When you fail at something you’re forced to acknowledge your deficit in whatever it might be. Not only this but it gives you a new found enthusiasm to conquer and overcome your shortcomings.

Some of the most iconic names demonstrate this.

  • Would Oprah Winfrey have been so determined to be one of the most successful talk show hosts if she hadn’t been fired from her first job as a news anchor for not being “good enough”?
  • Would Walt Disney have followed his dream of creating an animation company if he wasn’t fired from his first animation job?
  • Or would J.K Rowling be one of the most celebrated authors if it wasn’t for her being unemployed and living on welfare allowing her to write Harry Potter?

Winston Churchill defines success as moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm which I’ve come to identify with.

In a commencement speech by Theodore E. Steinway president of Steinway & Sons that produces world-renowned grand pianos. Theodore notes that Steinway has produced more than 342 000 piano’s and that in one concert grand piano there are 243 taut strings that exert a pull of 40 000 pounds on the iron frame. He notes that out of this great tension comes splendid harmony.

Tension and Harmony share a unique relationship.

It is inevitable that you will experience tense times in your life but it’s often forgotten that this is echoed in time to metaphoric melodic bliss that produces harmony in our lives. So as the song goes, enjoy the rain because even though it sometimes pours it’s the same rain that helps us grow.

Success demands a divine commitment to your purpose which will be reflected in how you respond to failure. Triumph isn’t for the weak and uncommitted. So when the journey is tough, be encouraged by remembering that smooth seas have never produced skillful sailors. Remain purposeful while learning and appreciating the scars or failure, remembering that the power to face defeat again and again is a winner’s quality.

EduConnect 2cents

Time to hear your stories, thoughts, ideas and inspirations. We want you to write to us. It can be a thought-provoking essay, an inspiring story about your career decisions or a witty bullet-point list of ideas (bullet points for the win). But we want something!

This inspirational piece was written by our EduOne Writing competition winner, Sicelo Joja. Our hearts are melting. 

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