I am often overwhelmed by how amazing all of you are; it seems impossible that your dad and I could be so well blessed in you, our children.
All of you are talented, resourceful, and hard working and it shows in the successes you have had already in your lives. I am very proud of all of your wins.
But honestly? I may be even more proud of the times when you've faced defeat.
Doesn't that sound crazy? I know; but it's true.
Failure isn't pretty. It can bring out the worst in people - in ourselves and in those around us.
It can make us angry.
It can make us doubt.
It can even drive us to the edge of despair.
But what you need to remember is this: you cannot fail without first trying.
Failure is proof of effort.
I know it might be hard to imagine, but there are people out there in the world - some young, some old - for whom the fear of failure looms over everything. It cripples them, sucking the air right out of their lungs, freezing their blood with terror. When the fear of failure takes hold of a person, it traps them right where they are, keeping them from ever changing or growing.
It keeps them from eventually blooming.
I want you to know that failure is out there on life's horizon for every person who dares to do, not just to dream. You've met it a few times already, my dears: on a hard test in school; in between the white lines of the batter's box; in the splashing and kicking through twenty-five yards of blue pool water.
You've met it and while you didn't like it, you didn't crumple in the face of it, either. Each of you found a way to stare it in the eye, nod, then keep moving forward.
Being defeated didn't defeat you.
On the wall in the living room of our house hangs a few mementos from your dad's football days. One is this quote from Teddy Roosevelt; maybe you read it once, long ago, but didn't quite understand it. I want you to read it again and savor these words:
"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."
My dear children, I don't know what successes lie in your futures but I do know this:
The ability to stand up again and again and again after life knocks you down lies at the heart of every success.
Keep getting up, keep moving forward -