You should dare to be great

  • Published
  • By Col. Charles Barkhurst
  • 88th Air Base Wing Vice Commander

 WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- I am always inspired when I come across the words Teddy Roosevelt spoke more than a hundred years ago:

“It’s 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 person 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.”

There are several noteworthy messages from his words I’d like to highlight in the hope that others will also feel inspired.

First, there is nobility in effort, especially great effort. When you’re taking on a tough job or have been handed a difficult challenge, give it your best; give it your all. Even if you fail, it’s admirable because at least you failed knowing you tried your hardest. To be honest, sometimes our best isn’t good enough.

But don’t get discouraged. Learn from it, get better and come back stronger — and give it your best shot again. Roosevelt tells us there’s nobility in effort.

The second thing his words tell us is that it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone to take on that tough job or face that difficult task. It takes courage to overcome previous failures or the fear of possible failure. It takes courage to take a stand on what you know to be right when others won’t. It takes courage to be a leader and silence your critics.

Which brings me to my final point: our critics. We can all use some constructive feedback, encouragement, moral support or a good dose of truth from those who care about us. Unfortunately, there will always be those who would rather tear us down than build us up.

The harsh words of the naysayers and armchair quarterbacks who try to tear us down don’t really matter. Pay them no mind because their discouraging words mean nothing — they’re weightless.

Members of the Mighty 88th, when was the last time you let your critics deter you from daring greatly or being your best?

Next time the Air Force asks you take the hard job or you are faced with a difficult personal challenge, find the courage to step out of your comfort zone, overcome the fear of failure and give it your best shot. Only then, when you dare to be great, will the rewards for your success be bigger than you could have ever imagined.