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Dream Big and Dare to Fail

by David DeFord

Let me introduce a man who lived by the motto, "dream big and dare to fail."

Norman Vaughan recently died a few days after his 100th birthday.

Vaughan served as dog handler and driver in Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to the South Pole in 1928. He drove the dog teams 1,500 miles across Antarctica to collect scientific data.

Just a few days before his 89th birthday, Vaughan and his wife returned to Antarctica and climbed to the top of 10,320-foot Mount Vaughan, the mountain named in his honor.

Norman Vaughan sought adventure all his life.

He finished the 1,100 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race six times after age 70. At age 96 he carried the Olympic Torch—70 years after he competed in the Olympic Games as a sled dog racer.

Vaughan planned to climb Mount Vaughan again to celebrate his 100th birthday, but his funding fell short.

He wrote two books, “With Byrd at the Bottom of the World,” the story of his South Pole adventure, and “My Life of Adventure,” about his other exploits.

Norman Vaughan lived his motto, “dream big and dare to fail” for 100 years.

You may not drive a dog team across Antarctica, but you can dream big and dare to fail.

Most big dreams have associated risks. And many people trade their big dreams for comfort and safety.

Don’t trade away your dreams for a little comfort. Have you have always swallowed your big dreams—afraid to put your lesser attainments at risk?

I challenge you to count the cost of chasing your dreams and compare that cost against living a life far short of them.

You will not succeed every step of the way. You will suffer some losses. You will fail to meet your expectations at times. But if you plan, and work, and strive toward your dreams, you will attain them.

You can do this.

Dream big and dare to fail.


Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. Isak Dinesen

Behind every success is a succession of failures. Rick Beneteau

The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top. Dr. Joyce Brothers

The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. Dale Carnegie

Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement. Henry Ford

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. Theodore Roosevelt

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. George Bernard Shaw

To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas. Leo Burnett

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Margaret Thatcher

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street. Zig Ziglar

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I’ve been entrusted to take the game winning shot…and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why…I succeed. Michael Jordan

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