Whenever we dare to do something different, we must be prepared. We must have the balls to go through with it despite the falls we will inevitably experience. Balls and falls, just as risks and rewards, go together in life. It is often said that ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. As designed, a ship must set sail and expect rough seas ahead. In the same vein, lawyers are not trained to be timid and submissive advisers, but uncompromising and daring advocates.
Lawyer Alan Paguia, my former teacher and faculty member at the Ateneo Law School, is one courageous advocate. He relentlessly pursued the interests of his client, then-President Joseph E. Estrada, as he argued against the constitutionality of the presidency of then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Paguia was indefinitely suspended from law practice for eight years when he accused the Supreme Court (SC) of bias, as some members of the Court supposedly engaged in politics when they participated in the 2001 popular uprising that deposed Estrada. The SC eventually reinstated Paguia when he declared that the suspension has strengthened his “belief in the Filipino people, the rule of law, due process and equal protection, the Supreme Court as the final dispenser of justice, and God as the ultimate source of justice.” A few years after his reinstatement, Paguia died.
During my last few weeks at the immigration bureau, lawyer Norman Tansingco, one of my more reliable technical assistants, was daring enough not to bail out. Knowing that those associated with me will be “punished”, I told him to lie low. Believing that what we were doing in office was fair and just, he refused to heed my call. Expectedly, as soon as I was replaced, Norman was reassigned to an insignificant position in one of our field offices. A few weeks thereafter, he resigned.
National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Michael Jordan and Steph Curry almost always prefer to have the ball in their hand whenever the game is on the line. They have the balls to take the last shot. The possibility of failure does not prevent them from trying again and again. As quoted in Nike Culture: The Sign of the Swoosh, Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twentysix times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” In the case of Steph Curry, he became the NBA’s best shooter through constant and consistent practice and shooting drills, where Curry takes 10 shots from five different locations on the three-point line, going back and forth until he makes 100 shots.
Leaders react positively to failure. They become better people because they know, deep inside, the purpose of these “falls” in life. Some say what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. Inspirational speaker and author John Maxwell uses the story of Job and Joseph to show how positive results can come from negative situations. In the case of Joseph, he was sold as a slave and endured many years of hardship before becoming a servant leader of his people. Joseph was so loyal to his faith and to God that he was never worried when he faced adversities in life. In the case of Job, he realized that God allows us to suffer during stages in our lives for reasons; according to Sid Buzzell, “to test us, to discipline us, to humble us, to change our perspective, or to prepare us for blessings in the future.”
Having been inspired by these powerful stories, we should all stop wondering why and how some people still dare to do bold things despite repeated failures. We have heard the classic saying: “Expect the worst. Hope for the best.” In his devotional article “Sun Stand Still”, Steven Furtick said, “Your expectation is the belief that what you are hoping for is actually going to happen, not your backup plan”. Furtick shared the story of Joshua, who audaciously prayed to God and asked the seemingly impossible—to make the sun stand still. Joshua wanted more light so he could destroy the rest of his enemies. We should strive to be like Joshua and be bold enough to ask for the impossible and then act in audacious faith, which does not eliminate doubt and fear but which, according to Furtick, “merely eclipses their power one decision at a time”.
Servant leaders always expect the best—not worst—and always hope for the best. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Of course, servant leaders were not born with confidence and optimism. They had to develop tenacity through the 6Ps: preparation, patience, persistence, perseverance (as what Curry and Jordan did) and powerful prayers (like those of Job, Joseph and Joshua).
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