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On Failure and Greatness

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best of yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason?” – Epictetus

In the pursuit of any goal, once the task has been properly defined, it becomes a matter of execution that bars an individual from its achievement. Regarding a great and noble adventure, success will only be obtained after the transformation of the hero. If you do not have a direction in life, take time to identify it. As Seneca wrote, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

But you do know your direction. You have a mountain to climb, yet fail to take the first step. Perhaps you are afraid of the journey or who you might become as a result of this ambitious quest. Maybe you lack the confidence to start and are fearful of failure. Confidence is derived from the Latin word ‘fidere’ which means “to trust.” To have self-confidence is to trust in one’s abilities, talents, and virtues.

More than any other tool or tactic used on your voyage, the quality of endurance will be your Excalibur. Setbacks and failures are inevitable, but having the toughness to tolerate suffering is the mark of a true warrior. You must develop the mentality of a stray dog finding its next meal – a certain desperation for success, without corruption, is vital in our competitive world.

Finally, do not be afraid of failure; it is an integral part of success. Remember that death is coming. Remember the fragility of each moment. Never compromise yourself and never fail to reach for greatness. Make your life’s story an Epic, on par with the likes of Hercules, Odysseus, and Achilles.

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." – President Theodore Roosevelt


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