November 1998, Election Day: I got up at 5 o’clock in the morning to make sure our yard signs had their “Vote Today” stickers on them. I stood at the intersection during the morning commute with a sign that said, “Will work for vote.” And another that said, “Honk if you voted.” I knocked doors all day and worked the phones in the evening. I remember sitting at a phone bank phoning people until the minute the polls closed. We had not just worked that hard that day but nearly every day for the six months prior to Election Day. I knocked on over 5,000 doors. I don’t remember how many forums I spoke at or events I attended. It was a full-time job. Even our three small children wore matching shirts that said, “Send Dad to Boise.” It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done–and one of the most rewarding.
On election night, as results started to come in, I sat down on the bed in our hotel suite that was doubling as our camping headquarters for the night and fell asleep even as my amazing campaign crew were talking and laughing. I simply passed out from exhaustion. Thirty minutes later my wife woke me up and told me to watch the news. Turns out, we lost. I walked out of our hotel room and into the ballroom where the media was, thanked my opponent and conceded the race. Just like that, it was over–nothing left to do but thank my team and remove my yards signs. I remember saying to my wife that night, “Well I guess this is what defeat feels like.” A few weeks later I received a thank you note from a member of my state party with the following quote:
“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.”
Theodore Roosevelt April 23, 1910
It was just what I needed. I felt bad for everyone who believed in me, donated to the campaign, volunteered, etc. I felt bad that I wouldn’t have a chance to represent them. The wise words from Theodore Roosevelt were a comforting balm. I was glad I had at least tried; that I had at least dreamed. I was glad for the experience even though disappointed by the outcome. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve failed and certainly not the last time. I’m grateful for what I have learned in both victory and defeat. I’m grateful for those with the courage to try something. The audacity to dream and the daring to achieve.
So, if you’re wondering if you should start a business, do it! Think you might want to run for city council go for it! That book is not going to write itself, set aside some time and get to the keyboard. Worried your audition may not be good enough? Audition any way. Take a chance, take a risk, live! If you fail, learn from it, be humble enough and determined enough to keep at it! Tenacity is a greater producer of wonder than skill. Determination is more impactful than ability. I’m sure of it! You don’t want to be numbered with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. You want to be remembered among the dreamers and the doers. One of my favorite passages of scripture is second Timothy chapter 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I’m sure he meant it! Tomorrow is a lie. Today is the day to start living you dreams.