Quotes have been on the “My Favorite Things” list for many years. When teaching, I wrote a different one on the blackboard nearly every day. When counseling, I shared fitting quotes with my clients. One-liners, especially when said by someone wise and respected, can have a lasting impact.
For example, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
How many people have that positive attitude? How often have you given up on something after failing only a few times, or maybe only once? How often have you worked up a sweat until you got it just right? I would guess most admiration goes to people a little like Edison.
As I write this, I think of my grandson. He is naturally athletic. My daughter says about him and sports, “He just gets it.” It’s true, but it’s not the whole story. There are very few days he does not play a round of golf or go to the gym to shoot baskets or both. I have watched him many times. His routine is shoot, rebound, dribble, repeat. Sometimes he is with friends and sometimes he is just out there by himself.
I wonder if fear has something to do with the tenacity to reach a goal, or hone a skill to perfection. Did Edison keep at it until the light bulb beamed alive because he was afraid of failure or ridicule? Does my grandson give it all he has because he is scared of feeling inadequate or of disappointing his parents and the team?
Maybe not. My grandson and Edison might understand what it takes to reach internal expectations. Benchmarks we set for ourselves have power. We can’t be great if we don’t honor the standards in our gut.
Some people are afraid of success. They self-sabotage unconsciously because of many things. Maybe they grew up in a household where attention was mainly received when they messed up, felt sick, or acted like they didn’t know-how. Perhaps they were called derogatory names or never had an adult say, “I believe in you. You can do this.”
The reasons we succeed are very similar to why we fail. I’ve been afraid of many things in my life—until I tried. Take four-wheeling—I was terrified to get on a machine and ride over rough terrain, huge rocks, and through deep water. Guess what? I’m pretty good at it now. I also applied for, was accepted, and completed a high college degree. Half of the people who start a Ph.D. program don’t finish. I was afraid of being one of those, yet believed I had what it took. I didn’t want to feel disappointed or inadequate for the rest of my life, nor set a poor example for my future grandkids. I was motivated by both fear of failure and anticipation of success.
How about you?
Let fear help you. It is not always an enemy.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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