“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ John F. Kennedy, Day of Affirmation speech …
It truly is the case that in trying, we succeed on any scale. For if we allow the risk of failure–or fear of failure–to hold us back from trying, we have already failed. This understanding is one of the main reasons that I look so positively on risks–the greater they are, the greater the rewards become. For me, the potential of failure is not a deterrent, but a motivator–something that encourages me to try harder, go further, dream bigger, and work more diligently to try to avoid its clutches.
Mother Theresa (now Saint Theresa) gave us a number of wonderful examples of daring to fail greatly. Following His call, she joined the Sisters of Loreto. After some time, she gave up everything to become like those she served in the streets of Calcutta. She challenged her self-discipline and commitment daily, and began a movement (the Missionaries of Charity) that grew like the mustard seed of the Scriptures. The differences she made in the world and in the lives of others are indescribable, and her accomplishments are so numerous and grand in scale, that in the beginning, it is was probably not even possible for her to have imagined all the wonderful things she would achieve by daring to fail greatly.
Of course, not everyone is destined for greatness, as the world knows “greatness.” Not all of us are meant to do things that will make the news or bring us recognition. Nevertheless, we all have the potential to achieve greatly in our own worlds, in our own spheres of influence, and that is something of great value and worth. In a way, it binds us with a duty to fulfill, something of greatness to achieve. All we must do is make the effort to dare greatly and do something that intimidates or frightens us. And if we fail… pick ourselves back up and try again.
I have experienced many failures in my life; yet that is why the risks demand my perseverance and dedication. Daring to do something great does not guarantee success, but having the right attitudes does. The truth is we will fail at times. However, what we do with the failure… well, that is what is most important.
Take a moment to reflect on and learn from some of your recent failures.
Questions to consider:
Do you dare to fail greatly? What kind of activity or task or project might you undertake that holds the risk of failure?
Have you ever achieved greatly? How did it feel? How can you get that feeling back?
From whom do we learn to fear failure? Are those the teachers that we want to have great influence over our lives and decisions?
For further thought:
“Failure is a reality; we all fail at times, and it’s painful when we do. But it’s better to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous and uncertain than to say, “I don’t want to try, because I may not succeed completely.” ~ Jimmy Carter, Sources of Strength