By Henry Berman, ASF
Is failure not an option, or is it fear that is not an option? In the motion picture Apollo 13, Ed Harris, playing the role of NASA flight director Gene Kranz delivers the line, “Failure is not an option.” The expression has become part of the American lexicon. Certainly none of us wants to fail, but is it failure — or the fear of failure — that concerns us?
Years ago I had the honor of working with Jim Lovell, the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon. After that experience I came to truly believe one of the reasons they made it safely back to earth – maybe the reason – was that Lovell was fearless. Was that because he had no other choice? Or was it the crew’s passion to succeed, their drive to excel, and the ability to envision the outcome of returning home safely rather than dwell on certain death that brought them home?
Small-staffed philanthropists attack the problems in their communities with a similar passion and responsiveness. In their communities they put themselves, their reputations, their wealth, and their legacy on the line by being willing to take risks. For Lovell and the crew of Apollo 13 it was truly their lives; for our members it is often the health of their communities that is front and center. It is this passion, often contagious, that does not let the fear of failure stop them from trying new approaches.
To support this brand of philanthropy, and celebrate all who practice it, I’m excited to let you know that ASF has joined the Case Foundation’s Be Fearless Alliance. As part of the initiative, the Case Foundation is searching for unknown social innovators willing to dream big and take risks to change the world – whether in their local community or around the globe. And they are making more than $650,000 in grants, software, and technology prizes available to those selected as America’s Most Fearless Changemakers.
The search for the most fearless is not about program area, how big or how small, where it takes place, or who is doing it. What does matter is that it is about unknown change makers, in fact heroes might be a more appropriate moniker for those who are bucking trends, disregarding the status quo, and being fearless in their approach and attitude.
Learn more about the Finding Fearless grant opportunity and the entire Be Fearless Alliance. Be inspired to be fearless and in doing so, as I recently wrote, you’ll inspire others! Be excited. Be Impactful! Be Fearless!
Attending ASF’s 2012 National Conference? Join my friend and colleague Michael Smith, Senior Vice President, Social Innovation at the Case Foundation on Tuesday, October 9 from 10:30 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. as he hosts a Fearless Forum and Fail Faire. You’re not fearful of attending, are you?
Henry Berman became ASF’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and ASF member since 2003, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of ASF members to his role. Berman’s early career included positions as an independent communications consultant and director, writer, and producer of film, video, and multimedia programs for education, motivation, and fundraising.