Hanging quote

May 6, 2009 | By | 10 Replies More

A few days ago, I spied this quote hanging on Lisa Rokusek’s wall:




Category: Quotes

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (10)

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  1. Tony Coyle says:

    I'm confused by the statement.

    Logically, if something is to be 'attempted' there is an implied chance that the attempt will fail. If the action can never fail, then the correct phrase would use 'do' or 'begin', not 'attempt'.

    If there were no possibility of failure, I personally think most things would lose their allure.

    It's the possibility that you are putting your life on the line that makes skydiving so exciting (at least initially).

    It's the fact that so much effort and dedication is required to sound good, that makes playing an instrument a challenge worth attempting and a joy when achieved.

    I honestly think that it's the potential for failure that, perversely perhaps, spurs us on to greater things. Sociologically speaking we are individually risk-takers, but corporately risk-avoiders. This dynamic balance provides us both growth opportunity and stability from consolidation. It's also core to what it means to be human.

    On a side note – I think the same thought pattern is responsible for belief in an afterlife and in gods. Species success and growth is fine and dandy, but what about me? A side effect of ego, is perhaps the creation of an afterlife that rewards us individually, and the creation of gods who are the gatekeepers to this transcendent state.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Tony: I liked this quote because it opened up my horizon regarding goal-setting. It's not really about living in a fantasy world where everything is incredibly easy. I also found it to be a nice bookend to this quote, which I recently found hanging in the home of another friend.

  2. Tony Coyle says:

    My favorite motto is:

    If you never fail*, you're not trying hard enough!

    In other words

    push the envelope,

    don't accept the given boundaries as facts but as suggestions,

    if you think you understand something immediately, you're not thinking deeply enough,

    the status quo, isn't..

    On your linked quote: I have always liked Atticus' definition of courage – those are definitely words to live by (and are somewhat congruent with my motto).

    *for some positive value of fail, that is! Failing by giving up isn't a primary option either!

  3. Tony Coyle says:

    Erich – I'll try to be a little more positive.

    From a goal setting perspective, I agree with the statement completely: you should never feel constrained by the current definition of possible. This is something I always try to instill in my team members. Stretch goals should 'attempt the impossible' – or at the very least operate under the presumption that failure can't happen.

    If we assume failure is the inevitable outcome, we will 'prune' any paths leading to that outcome from our suite of possibilities. This is bad for growth: personal, professional, and corporate.

    I also do tell my people that I expect them to fail, and want them to fail. If they don't fail, they're not pushing hard enough. But failure, in this sense, means they are becoming more successful, and so are generally achieving at a higher performance level than they otherwise would.

    This approach also helps you to become more honest about your abilities — I know where some of my boundaries lie simply because I've failed. I've been surprised in many cases by how much more I could do that I had thought, and how that knowledge helps me to excel in other areas.

    yes we can is a great philosophy for life.

  4. Tony Coyle says:

    a personal anecdote. Those who know me, and know my history can likely name the two people here!

    I had two colleagues when I was starting my career as a consultant, many years ago. Both were technically skilled. Both were personable, and both were good communicators.

    One never had a single negative review. Everything he did was marked by success and perfection.

    The other was a minefield of failures. Every single project had a comment or two about errors or failures.

    The first is still a consultant. Still working diligently. Still doing great work for his clients. He is now a senior manager in his firm. Still working diligently. Still getting positive, but workmanlike, reviews.

    The second is now the senior partner in his own consulting firm (with hundreds of consultants). His failures were the result of pushing the boundaries. As a consultant, he operated as if he had the power and expertise and reach of a senior consultant. As a manager he operated as a partner. He continually pushed the boundaries of his role. His 'failures' were counterbalanced by even bigger successes. His successes were substantially greater because he was willing to fail, because failure at 200% meant his success was only 150% of expectations.

    Both men are successful. Both have achieved many challenging goals. Both have progressed. But only one has truly exceeded expectations – and he continues to do so.

  5. lisa rokusek says:


    To get the full range of my wall you have to see that other quotes include

    "Leap and the net will appear."

    "Never never never quit."

    "Dare to be remarkable."

    "If you are going through Hell keep going." and

    "Barn burnt down; now I can see the moon."

    I am beginning to see that what I once thought were failures were only opportunities I had a chance to learn some really great (if tough) things.

    I don't learn nearly as much when things go according to my plan as I do when they go pear-shaped. But if what I used to think of as failures were only new opportunities for growth and learning, well, then where is the failure?

    If we hold back trying new things, or pushing out of our comfort zone because we are afraid of things not going as we plan, we lose. Remove that fear and we open up all kinds of possibilities.

    That is how I see that particular quote.

  6. Erika Price says:

    Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for? – Robert Browning

  7. Tony Coyle says:

    Lisa: Thanks for sharing — I think I'm jealous of your wall!

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