What if we fail?

Have you ever had a day where the buzzer runs out on your dreams?

There’s more to say and more to do, but the cash clock expires?

I’ve been there.  I am there.  I live at this address recently.

I’ve prayed with more fervor than ever in my life.

I’ve cried a river of tears.

We’ve sought the wisdom of sages, mentors, experts, and righteous leaders.

We’ve used all of our own money – and then some.

We’ve given up our own personal luxuries and standards of living to keep the cause alive.

We’ve borrowed from friends and family who believe in our mission.

We’ve asked for help around the world.

I’m a high achiever.  A doer.  I’m married to a high achiever and doer.  We’ve surrounded ourselves with selfless souls who have given their blood, sweat, and tears to the mission.  We don’t know how to accept defeat, and we refuse to fail. 

But even with all of that, today is a day where I am truly at a loss.

Would you believe that there are quite a number of people who are hoping we will fail?  Because we represent change.  And change is painful.

Our mission is at great risk of imploding on a daily basis.  We are understaffed and underfunded.  Our team is overworked and underpaid. 

We’ve spent months searching, praying, and digging for funding.  We’ve had proverbial and literal doors slammed in our faces.  We’ve had promised funds fall through, grants denied, and loans declined. 

We’ve had fair weather fans jump ship, consultants tell us to scale back, financial advisors call us crazy, and lenders suggest that we should call it quits and shut our doors.

But we can’t.  We won’t.

We will not quit on the next generation.  We will not settle for passing along a broken world.  We refuse to give up hope that a better world can be created. 

But those who are part of the problem cannot be a part of the solution.  Hence, we cannot hope that our broken systems of today will produce the liberating solutions for tomorrow.

I used to blindly follow the crowd and accept the status quo.

I used to panic at the thought of being uncomfortable.

I used to worry about being embarrassed or humiliated.

I used to fear failure.

Now the only failure I fear is failing the families who have believed in us and risked their own comfort zones by believing in our mission.

I cringe at the thought of sending these children back to a broken system.

My heart stops at the thought of letting our team down after all of their hard work and belief.

My brain cannot accept a reality where there is no actual plan for a better tomorrow.

A dream without a plan is just a wish.  And wishing won’t equip our children to thrive in this world.

We have a whole generation that is entering society with record numbers of diplomas, but no jobs.  We’ve learned how to memorize data, but we don’t know how to think.  We want to change the world, but we can’t change a tire.  We want to bring world peace and end world hunger, but we can’t balance our checking accounts.  We want to win an Oscar, but we hide from our own emotions.  We act invincible and bulletproof, but we feel empty and beaten. 

It’s no one’s fault.  It’s everyone’s problem.

Our society was never taught these critical life and leadership skills as a whole. 

We have created this, and we can change it.  Whether tomorrow will be a nightmare or a dream is up to us.

We can all sit around and reminisce and complain, but the fact is that very few people are willing to risk their own comfort to create solutions. 

There is no quick fix to our current state.  We must invest in the long haul.

So, if we fall today, we’ll regroup and come back tomorrow. 

But the only way to really fail is to quit.

And I will not quit on my child – or any child. 

I will not quit on the next generation. 

I will not quit on my belief in the potential of humanity.

Yes, my dream started with the search for utopian education for my own son.  That’s where it started, but that’s not where it ends.  We all have a catalyst for our passions.  What starts out as a vision becomes a life mission.

So, today, after I’ve literally given to the point where I have nothing left to give…

I am learning that there is always more to give.

I’m tired, but still exhilarated.

My pockets may be temporarily empty, but I will never be poor.

I’m at a loss for how to keep our doors open this week, but I know we’ll never shut down.

I live off miracles and watch for Heaven to deliver daily.

I feel immense compassion for those who are too weak to wait.

I pray every day to be braver and happier.

I work relentlessly on myself to release other people’s expectations.

I live with an internal tug of war between mercy and judgement.

I crawl in bed knowing that I made countless errors, but gave my all.

I go to sleep knowing that if I wake up, I’ll have a whole new well of power to embrace and attack the new day. 

Like many other days, today is one of those days where I wait and watch for Heaven to show up and fill the gap where I have fallen short.  Today I can’t yet fund the foundation or pay the bill for my long list of dreams.  

Am I nuts for being so raw and exposing our truth?  For showing the ugly reality of life as a pioneer?  Probably.  I mean, who in their right mind would dare to believe in us if everything is so unstable?

Guess what.  The early days of any dream are always unstable.

But those who are scared off by the risks will be sitting on the sidelines waiting for another decade at least, anyway.  Once we hit critical mass, it’s easy to share the stories.

This is not a journey for the faint of heart, the weak-minded, or the crowd-pleasers.

I know we won’t fail, simply because we will never say die. 

Today isn’t pretty, and tomorrow might be a bit of a rough patch. Next week, everything will be fine.  Next year, everything will be amazing! 

So, all we need to do is get through today.  How many ‘todays’, I can’t say for sure.  But until we hit liftoff, we smile with grace and keep marching toward the goal line. 

And one thing I do know… this will be a really good story one day, for those who are brave enough to stick around.

Lastly, to all my fellow dreamers, visionaries, world-changers, and idealists:

Keep going. 

Dreams are never achieved between the “normal” hours of 9 – 5.  Dreams are rarely achieved when there is plenty of padding in the bank account. Do whatever you must to pay the bills, but don’t you dare give up on that dream.  The world needs you and your passion.  Just don’t forget to bring the elbow grease, cuz you’re gonna need a double dose of that.  And in case you might be doubting yourself or listening to the doubters all around you, I’m leaving you with a time-tested success formula to cheer you on:



smartly applied hard work


collaboration with the right people


tweak as you go


drop your ego on the side of the road


try and fall 9 million times (or however many it takes)


grace of God





Chaya Ben-Shabat
Chaya is a mom, entrepreneur, success coach, athlete, student, dreamer, and world traveler.   She is also the founder and CEO of an up-and-coming international school system, designed to revolutionize global education.  She works with highly determined women to help them bust through their obstacles, discover and channel their inner superpowers, and master the tools and skills necessary to design and create the life of their dreams.

1 Comment

  • Nechama Dena Zwiebel

    Chaya, Ive got your back! Yes i cannot wait long till it becomes the miracle story of the day! It must become the miracle now!! You are seconds away!! Keep going!!! I love your formula!

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