Growing up, my sister and I used to hang out at the community pool each summer. The high dive was my nemesis. I remember climbing each rung, tiptoeing to the edge, and peering down, overcome by fear. In fact, on my first attempt, my sister, seeing my angst, climbed up to join me and threatened to “help” me take the plunge.
Is it possible to lack courage, yet be daring? Fear can easily stifle our efforts, but it can also be utilized as a catalyst to propel us forward. I believe it’s possible to be afraid and brave at the same time.
As a new writer wanting desperately to get published, I’ve wrestled with the biggest fear of all: fear of failure. Perhaps you have, too. One thing I’ve learned is that the path to success is paved with courage, determination, and endurance. Writing isn’t easy. One must spend countless hours formulating an effective plot, outlining, writing, rewriting, tweaking, and polishing, all the while knowing that success may be out of one’s reach.
While no one relishes the idea of failure, in reality, it’s by turning our backs on it that we stand any chance of success. Funny how that works. Success requires that we cast our fears aside and, like me on the high dive, step off the board—and take the plunge.
No one expressed the concept of courage better than Theodore Roosevelt in his speech “Man in the Arena” on April 23, 1910:
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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Or, as another writer once told me, “Those of us who step into the book-publishing arena must do so with pride, dignity, and courage.”
To our mutual success.