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Failure is the only option

Born and raised by a Boeing engineer contracted by NASA, the philosophy I was raised by was, “failure is not an option.” During my childhood, I wore this mantra proudly on my wrist. It was a gift from my father who encouraged me to go after my dreams and to remember that I cannot fail like the back of my hand; so, I put the intention on my wrist.

As I would end long days of hard work growing up, I would pull the bed covers over me and remind myself that I cannot fail, it is not an option. Everything I would do would lead me to my dreams. My loftiest dream growing up – to be honest it is currently my dream – was to be in the NBA because 1) I loved the game of basketball and 2) I wanted to inspire others that they can be anything they dream of being. The latter reason because if a relatively short, white, Jewish kid from Houston could play professional ball, anyone could fly in space, create a product, compete in the Olympics i.e. name a goal and you can do it. I vividly remember going to bed one night after writing down in my small moleskin journal (they are still crushing the journal game!) that My goal in life is to make it to the NBA – King Solomon. After writing this, I went to bed, pulled my covers over my body, and my dream over my eyes. “There’s no way the NBA can’t have me playing in it,” I would tell myself “what would happen if I wasn’t playing… would there still be basketball?” Nevertheless, I was aiming high and nothing could stop me, failure was not an option.

I find it fascinating that the more I lived by a mantra or a quote, it started meaning different things to me. “Failure is not an option” became “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything,” which later became “Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” If I cannot fail in baske