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Defeat: The Only Path to True Success

Embracing Failure: My personal experience with several personal & professional defeats

By Haru Mehra

At the age of 24, I took a bold step that shaped my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I shortened my name, Harbinder, to Haru, a name my maternal grandmother used to call me lovingly as “Hari” or sometimes “Harooo.” This change was not just a rebranding but a profound embrace of a philosophy I hold dear: the path to true success is paved with failures and defeats.

If You fail restart – Zen Z

From a young age, I realized that to succeed, one must first taste defeat. If you haven’t experienced failure, you can’t truly move forward in life. Keeping the possibility of defeat in mind has always made me aware, prepared, and resilient. I embraced this truth so deeply that I chose a name that reflects it. In Hindi, “Haru” means “defeated” but also has a spiritual connotation, derived from “Har,” meaning liberated or free, like Lord Shiva, who is often called “Har Har Mahadev,” the God of gods who is liberated and free.

When I recently read Khalil Gibran’s poem “Defeat,” I felt an immediate connection. This poem encapsulates the essence of my journey and beliefs, and I believe every young person should understand its power, insight, and spirituality. I want to share this poem with you, along with my personal story and reflections.

Defeat by Khalil Gibran

Defeat, my defeat, my solitude, and my aloofness. You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs, and sweeter to my heart than all world glory. Defeat, my defeat, my self-knowledge, and my defiance. Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot, and not to be trapped by withering laurels. And in you, I have found aloneness, and the joy of being shunned and scorned. Defeat, my defeat, my shining sword and shield. In your eyes, I have read that to be enthroned is to be enslaved, and to be understood is to be leveled down. And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness, and like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed. Defeat, my defeat, my bold companion. You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences. And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings, and urging of seas, and of mountains that burn in the night. And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul. Defeat, my defeat, my deathless courage. You and I shall laugh together with the storm. And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us. And we shall stand in the sun with the will. And we shall be dangerous.

I would like to explain here some of the few lines which I think are worth explaining:

“In your eyes, I have read that to be enthroned is to be enslaved.”

Meaning: Holding a high position or title can limit your freedom.

Example: As the CEO of a huge company, you might have power and prestige, but you’re also burdened with immense responsibilities and constant scrutiny. Your freedom to act on your own terms diminishes, and the pressure can feel like a form of enslavement.

“And to be understood is to be leveled down.”

Meaning: When people think they fully understand you, they often simplify your complexity.

Example: Consider an artist known for a particular style. If everyone believes they understand the artist solely based on that style, they ignore the artist’s broader potential and other skills. The artist feels reduced to just one aspect of their identity, limiting their growth and multifaceted nature.


“Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot, and not to be trapped by withering laurels. And in you, I have found aloneness, and the joy of being shunned and scorned.”

Meaning: Defeat reminds us that we are still vibrant and capable, not stuck in our past achievements. It also brings a sense of independence and a unique joy from being rejected, as it allows us to find strength in solitude.

Example: Imagine a young athlete who once won a major competition but has since faced several defeats. These defeats remind the athlete that they are still in the game, still capable of pushing their limits. In the process, they also learn to value their own company and find joy in their personal journey, even when others don’t recognize their efforts.

“And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us. And we shall stand in the sun with the will. And we shall be dangerous.”

Meaning: Defeat helps us bury the parts of ourselves that no longer serve us, allowing us to stand strong and determined, ready to face new challenges with renewed vigor.

Example: A failed business venture might signify the end of one idea, but it also marks the beginning of a new phase where old fears, doubts, and outdated strategies are left behind. The entrepreneur emerges stronger, more determined, and ready to take on the world with a fresh perspective.


My Journey: From the Himalayas to Lyon

I grew up in a beautiful, sleepy village in the Himalayas and later moved to New Delhi to pursue my studies and career. At 24, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey, founding my first startup. Over the years, I’ve created three startups, each experience filled with challenges, failures, and invaluable lessons.

Seven years ago, I moved to Lyon, France, continuing my journey of adaptation and evolution. Each defeat and failure along the way has been a companion, teaching me resilience and the importance of starting over without hesitation. Embracing failure has been crucial to my growth and success.


Encouraging the Next Generation

To all the young dreamers and aspiring entrepreneurs, I urge you to take calculated risks and view defeats as friends. Failure is not the end but a step towards true success. Learn from each setback, adapt, and keep moving forward.

At Le Frehindi, a Paris-based student benefit organization with offices in India and the Middle East, we’re considering a summer camp with a unique theme: “Learn, Fail, and Relearn.” This week-long camp in India or Europe will encourage students to embrace failure, learn from it, and grow stronger.

Would you be interested in participating in such a camp? Share your thoughts in the comments, and let us know how Le Frehindi can help you grow in your life. Together, let’s create a future where defeat is seen not as a setback but as a powerful tool for success.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your feedback and participation in our upcoming initiatives.

Haru Mehra

President & CEO, Le Frehindi – Paris


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