If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.


If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail. – Seneca

While it's easy to laugh, at least he put some effort into it. And think how epic it would have been if it worked!

While it’s easy to laugh, at least he put some effort into it. And think how epic it would have been if it worked! Admire the ingenuity!

What does that mean?
This quote is about the human spirit, and how support from strangers can make a difference. It asks us to admire people who try to do great things. Perhaps it’s something difficult, perhaps it’s something noble. Perhaps it’s kind of dumb, but massive is scale.

As humans, we have a tendency to honor those who succeed. But what about those who do not? This quote asks us to admire them even if they fail. And many times, the definition of failure is arbitrary. If someone ran a race and turned in a personal best time, but came in second, did they truly fail?

I believe the real point of the quote is to hint to us to try things. Even if we are fairly sure that we will fail. Even if we allow others to define success and failure for us, we can still do our best. And if we show others this same encouragement and admiration, perhaps they, too, will try to do something great.

Why is admiration of all who make the attempt important?  
Consider how many people tried to break the 4 minute ‘barrier’ for running the mile. Few even came close. Then, it was broken. And all the admiration inspired others to repeat the task. While many also failed, more and more were successful. Now it’s not really news when someone runs the mile in under 4 minutes. It might make the local papers, but that’s about it.

How motivational is the admiration of others? It depends on the person. Some find it motivational, others find it creepy or annoying. But most consider it a good thing to have support. Consider how many times are you willing to try something if you know cruel laughter will be your reward for failure? What if you knew you had admiration and support, even if you failed?

This level of encouragement and support is what makes this quote meaningful to me. With it, anything is possible, if you keep learning and keep trying. Without it, life is a cold and lonely road. I know which I prefer, how about you?

Where can I apply this in my life?
You already have, and it has already helped you. When you were learning to walk, you failed repeatedly. Eventually, you got to the point where you could take two or three steps. Then longer and longer spans were within your grasp. You got better, and you failed. So what.

But, far more importantly, was the admiration poured out by family and friends. At first, they gave you applause for letting go, and taking one step before failing. On an adult scale, that was just a miserable failure, yet for you, it was your very first step.

You took your second, and kept at it. In part, you did it for the admiration you were shown. To me, that’s the heart of this quote. If no one had paid any attention, you probably would still have learned, but it would have likely have been slower going, right?

Now consider what you have done for others. You have probably seen a young child learning to walk. What did you do? Did you find yourself using your body to help? Even though it didn’t really help, right? Did you have words of encouragement, or clap at some point?

What about other times? How encouraging have you been around your friends? It is one thing to have some good-natured fun with them, but it is also nice to encourage them as well, right? Do you do that, or do you mostly sit back and watch, trying not to be too negative about their chances?

How often, and in what circumstances, do you give your admiration to others? How well do you know them, to know that what they are attempting is something trivial, or that it is something great? For some public speaking is trivial, for others, they’d rather chew off their arm than stand there.

The safe way to deal with this, of course, is to treat every action as a great thing, and provide admiration and encouragement for a worthy attempt even if the result isn’t exactly what we would consider success. When was the last time you tried to behave in that manner?

If you’ve ever watched young kids playing sports for their first season, or playing musical instruments, or singing, you know it’s not what we would consider success. However, for the kids, it was a great effort, and by their definition, it was a success.

For me the emphasis is on the worthy effort. As long as someone is giving it their all, I am willing to support them. Perhaps even help them, or at least lend what experience I might have, to the task at hand. And that may be all the more it takes to help them in their next attempt.

Even if we come up short, we know we gave it all we had, attempting something great. There is no shame in that.

From: Twitter, @OprahsQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna165755.html
Photo by sebilden

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in doing, empathy, failure, inspire, perseverance, struggle and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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