Lisa Ryan, MBA, works with organizations to keep their top talent and best clients from becoming someone else’s. She focuses on employee engagement and productivity, customer retention and growth and how these relate to business profitability and success. She is the author of six books and co-stars in two films. Learn more at



“The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasm, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Often times in life, we regret most the things we DIDN’T do instead of what we actually did. It’s risky and scary to pursue our wildest dreams, and yet that’s often where our greatest successes come from.

I didn’t attend college right after high school. No one in my family had gone to college and I was never encouraged to pursue an education. While working at an Executive Search firm, I saw the difference between people with degrees versus those without formal education in terms of career and financial success. I thought, “Hmm, I believe I’ll go to college.” I began attending college part-time while continuing to work on a full-time basis.

Friends and family members asked, “Do you realize how old you are going to be when you get your degree?” My answer was always the same, “Exactly the same age as I’ll be without one.” I received my Associates degree after eight years. Four years later, I achieved my Bachelor’s degree and two years later, my MBA. To this day, the accomplishment of these degrees reigns as some of the proudest moments of my life.

Our life’s important achievements don’t have to take years to reach. They may require a few months of practice and hours of work. A friend decided to participate in a Half-Ironman race. After training hard for several months, she was in the best shape of her life. However, her strength and stamina did not match up to the competition in the race. (If you are not familiar with the Half-Ironman, it consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run.) She decided that she was going to “just do it” anyway.

The first event was swimming. Although swimming was her weakest event, she completed that segment. The bike ride segment was completed next and she was about to embark on the last portion of the race, the 13.1 mile run. She was exhausted. Her entire body ached and she desperately wanted to throw in the towel and give up. Fortunately, her family members and friends were there to cheer her on. Some of them joined her for part of the race to encourage her to keep going. Friends told her, “Pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever.” She kept going. Nine hours after the start of the race, as the race officials were removing the markers, she triumphantly crossed the finish line. It was then that she experienced one of the proudest moments of her life.

What is it that you would like to achieve? If the fear of failure is holding you back, simply ask yourself the question, “Which is worse – failure of regret?” If you fail while daring greatly, there is no shame. Chances are your triumph will be even more spectacular when victory is achieved.

LESSON: We learn from our failures, but there is no cure for remorse.