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“It was one of the most memorable meetings during my tenure as Secretary [of Defense]. It was also the only encounter with a foreign leader in which I lost my cool . . . He [King Abdullah] went on and on about how the United States was seen as weak by governments in the region. The longer he talked, the angrier I got . . . I told him that what he considered ‘America's great weakness’, showing restraint, was actually great strength. Because we could crush any adversary. I told him that neither he nor anyone else should ever underestimate the strength and power of the United States. Those who had — Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union — were all now in the ashcan of history.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat . . . There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who ‘but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier’.”

U.S President Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic
speech delivered on April 23, 1910, at the Sorbonne in Paris

“There's a temptation for all of us to blame failures on factors outside our control — the enemy was ten feet tall, we weren't treated fairly, or it was an impossible task to begin with. There's also comfort in doubling down on proven processes regardless of their efficacy. Few of us are criticized if we faithfully do what has worked many times before. But feeling comfortable or dodging criticism should not be our measure of success. There's likely a place in paradise for people who tried hard, but what really matters is succeeding. If that requires you to change, that's your mission.”

General Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army, ret.
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World