In a speech presented April 10, 1899, before the Hamilton Club in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt, who later became the 26th president of the United States, said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Roosevelt was both a monumental success and a resounding failure.
As a young man, he journeyed west in search of adventure and wound up wasting a large portion of his inheritance on a wayward cattle deal.
Fast forward a few years, and he would ascend to the office of president of the United States of America. Not bad for a man who struggled with asthma and was generally hated by many in the political establishment of the time.
In spite of all the success, the most fascinating aspect of Roosevelt’s life is his constant striving toward greatness. He never allowed himself to be defined by his failures.
Rather, he allowed his failures to motivate him to greater glory and ever richer achievements.
Maybe you are like me, sometimes the fear of failure overwhelms you.
I earnestly desire to succeed, but I’m haunted by the whisper of failure in the still moments of the day.
“You can’t do it. Think of the shame you’ll feel when you fail again. Imagine what others will think. You’re just not good enough.”
I have no doubt Roosevelt heard these words.
However, I believe Roosevelt looked failure squarely in the eyes and decided with a lot of guts and a penchant for danger to put a boot squarely in failure’s chest and march on to greatness.
You are not a timid soul.
You are not your failure. Learn from it. Work harder and smarter.
March on to victory.