Try to become as great as you can. Some people are afraid to accomplish because they might make mistakes — and those mistakes will be more serious than if they remained simple!
This is not valid reasoning. Each person is obligated to develop himself to the best of his ability. The smallest person has potential for greatness if he utilizes all that is within him.
Sources: Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch – Shiurai Daas, vol.3, p.130; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.131
Action will enable you to accomplish and achieve. But something must come before taking action: thinking.
Think first. Yes, think big and think bigger, but always think first.
Taking action without thinking will lead to many avoidable mistakes and errors. Taking action without thinking first will lead to unnecessary quarrels and arguments, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings.
Taking action without thinking will lead to wasting much time and energy.
Taking action without thinking might get you far, but it’s likely to get you far in the wrong direction.
When you spend time thinking about your options and about consequences, you will be able to learn from each experience to think even better and wiser next time.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book: “Taking Action” – pages 40-1
A student of Rabbi Nochum Zev Ziv once erred in the pronunciation of a word when publicly repeating the Amidah prayer. Someone pointed out the correct pronunciation, and the student repeated the word accurately. However, the student became confused and nervous and made many more errors.
After the prayers, Rabbi Nochum Zev approached him and said, “How is it possible to be so arrogant? Do you think you are so perfect that you cannot possibly make any mistakes?”
When I told the above story to someone, they asked, “Won’t the student feel even worse and more upset by the fact that his teacher told him he was arrogant?”
It depends on how such a message comes across. If said with understanding and concern, the message is, “I care about you. Why do you have to make yourself so upset over a minor error? Of course, you are fallible and make mistakes. Expect to make mistakes and keep trying to improve, but do not feel devastated when you err.”
Sources: Imrai Daas, p.218; Gateway to Happiness, pp.130-1