Success and Failure

The Sculpting Competition

Long ago, in a distant land, there lived two sculptors named Raja and Ramu. One day they each received a Royal proclamation inviting them to take part in a sculpting competition to be held at the Royal Gardens. Both Raja and Ramu were extremely excited by this opportunity and immediately started preparing for the seven day journey.

Raja set out on a bright Monday morning with his chisels and hammers packed in the back of his horse-drawn cart. At the end of his first day of travelling, he made camp in a clearing by the side of the road. After a simple meal, Raja noticed a large rock on the edge of the clearing and decided to get in some practice for the upcoming sculpting competition. He took out his tools and began to chisel away at the rock. Several hours later, Raja stood back to look at his sculpture. It was a statue of the Princess Rebecca, but while he was reasonably happy with his attempt, Raja realized that the statue's hands were too big. He made a mental note to be careful of this in the future and went to sleep.

The next morning, Raja continued on his way leaving his statue of Princess Rebecca by the side of the clearing. At the end of his second day, Raja found another rock to practice on and created another sculpture of the Princess. This time he got her hands right but made her legs too short. He made a mental note on how to improve next time and moved on. Raja continued this pattern throughout his journey. Each night he found a rock to practice on, created a sculpture of Princess Rebecca, made note on how he could improve and then moved on the following morning leaving the sculpture where he created it.

By the time Raja reached the Royal Gardens he had made seven practice sculptures that were each a little bit better than the one before. On the day of the competition, Raja created his best sculpture ever and to his delight, he was awarded the coveted 'Golden Hammer' award which was presented by Princess Rebecca herself. Now you may be wondering what happened to the other sculptor, Ramu, so let me tell you his side of the story…

Ramu also set out on the seven day journey to the Royal Gardens to compete in the sculpting competition. Like Raja, Ramu made camp on the first night and found a large rock to practice on. He too created a statue of the Princess Rebecca but found that he made her feet too big. Ramu was angry at himself for making this mistake and the next morning he heaved the statue onto the back of his cart so that he could study his mistake later. At the end of his second day of travelling, Ramu found another rock to practice on and created another statue. This time he forgot to include the princesses head dress and he became furious at his mistake. The next morning, he heaved the statue onto the back of his cart and continued slowly on his journey. Each night Ramu repeated this same pattern. He created a statue, became angry with himself when he made a mistake and then loaded the statue onto his cart before moving on.

On the seventh day, Ramu woke up early and prepared for the final leg of his journey, but when he prompted his horse to get underway, the poor animal strained at his harness but could not move an inch. Ramu jumped down from his seat and went to the back of his cart. There he found all seven practice statues of the Princess Rebecca which were weighing the cart down and making it impossible to move. Ramu complained bitterly as he looked over the statues in detail - too big, too short, too tall…the list of mistakes went on and on. The unhappy sculptor sat down on a tree stump and continued to stare at his statues for hours, and as a result, he never made it to the Royal Gardens to compete in the competition.

This simple story illustrates an important lesson that can often be the difference between success and failure. The statues in the story represent the mistakes that we all make in life. The difference between Raja and Ramu was the way in which they responded to their mistakes. When Raja made a practice statue he made a mental note of any problems and then he left his mistake where he made it and continued on his journey. As a result, he gradually developed his skills and eventually achieved his ultimate objective. Ramu on the other hand approached his mistakes in a different fashion. Each time he made a statue, he loaded it onto his cart and took it with him. Each day his cart became heavier and heavier until eventually it would not move at all. Instead of leaving his mistakes where he made them, Ramu carried the weight of his mistakes with him and the weight of these past mistakes eventually prevented him from reaching his real objective. On your journey to success, understand that you too will make mistakes. Some small, some big. Each time you make a mistake you have a choice. You can either learn from your mistake and move on like Raja, or you can carry your mistake with you like Ramu. The danger in harboring regret and continually analyzing your past mistakes is that, like Ramu, you can eventually get stuck and can jeopardize the achievements that are waiting for you in your future.

Today I'd like to encourage you to reflect on the story of Raja and Ramu and make the decision to leave your mistakes where you make them. In this way, you'll be able to learn from your mistakes but will still be able to move forward to achieve your ultimate objective.