What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

In 1973, minister Robert Schuller published a book titled You Can Become the Person You Want to Be. He posed three questions meant to encourage people to pursue lofty goals without fearing failure, dream without considering financial limits, and plan without worrying how long it might take. It was a key motivation tool for inspirational leaders.

Forty years later, Warren Berger (2014) paraphrased Schuller’s work in an article, asking “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Schuller’s ideas, presented in a single question, caught the attention of not just Berger; posing this question has been used by executives and coaches alike with a variety of audiences, and now the Camden Community News audience.

When I heard this motivational question, I was in a church service. I immediately felt that this message could have a great impact on high school students. What goals and dreams and plans were not attempted because the message wasn’t delivered in my high school in the late 1970s? Enough of past regrets – they don’t achieve anything.

Instead, the situation I want to highlight is Minneapolis North High School students. The seniors have persevered in exceptionally difficult high school years. The start of the pandemic forced remote learning, and the violence of George Floyd’s death and subsequent unrest opened wounds that are still painful. Through it all, the students continued to push forward to meet goals and expectations both in the classrooms and in extracurricular opportunities. The loss of Deshaun Hill in February, an intelligent young man with incredible athletic abilities, was one more challenge the entire school had to overcome. The seniors stayed focused on graduating on time.

With this in mind, Pillsbury United Communities raised $1 million specifically for this graduating class, to recognize their hard work in and out of school. The announcement from Pillsbury United on April 15, granting scholarships for the 2022 graduates of North High, was made to the assembled students. Their collective joy was a great thing to see on the evening news. 

Each senior that graduates this year will have $10,000 available for education in college or other training programs. Pillsbury United will assist the families by paying the funds directly to the educational institutions.

What is most impressive is that these students achieved their goals without knowing they would be rewarded with this generous scholarship offer. Perhaps the question should be, “What dreams do you have for your future, and what goals will you set and achieve today to make those dreams come true?”