Minute 687: Can You?

The guidance counselor suggested submitting applications to three different schools for advanced study. The degrees they offered would be a gateway to a career in medicine.

“I can’t go to any of those places,” Gabby said. “I know their standards and I can’t meet them.”

“Your grade average is good and it’s worth the application fee to see if you might be accepted,” the counselor said.

“I don’t think so,” Gabby insisted. “My grades in science just don’t cut it.”

Did you ever meet someone who was daring? The person who is fearless can often accomplish what others will not even attempt. The extreme activities of life such as sky diving and race-car driving are no challenge to such an individual; these activities are just another opportunity to engage in excitement.

Others, on the other hand, see mountains where none exist. When encouraged to venture into an area of life they haven’t yet tried, they decline, saying, “I can’t do that.” Their rejection is a false statement of lack of ability. True, there are certain things this individual may not be able to do because of a shortcoming or lack of ability; yet, there are many others s/he might decline for fear of failure. It’s almost as if the statement “I can’t” is a declaration of fear of failure. The attitude is one of “I’d rather not fail so I won’t try.” In sports, should a participant forfeit, the record shows a loss. In life, failing to try something that might be achievable is also a loss. Better to try and fail than to not try at all.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

One of the basic themes that should permeate all chinuch is respect. Genuine respect will allow us to more effectively direct, teach, get responses, and have people listen to us. Many people “filter out” words and tones of domination. Commands such as… “You better do —,”… tend to bring out the worst in most people. Even in the most dynamic relationship, that of rebbi-talmid, the Rambam writes that a rebbi should respect his student. (Avi Shulman, Making Little Things Count and Big Things Better, p. 58)


Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.