Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Daring Greatly

I recently finished a third book by Brene Brown. This one was called “Daring Greatly.” Brown got the inspiration for the title from part a speech made by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910:

“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 better.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face I 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 or 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 he fails while daring greatly…” 

Brown’s years of research and teachings give hope and understanding to our lives as human beings. Her books have come into my life at a time when I’ve been doing a lot of my own soul-searching and self-study. I am often amazed how she’ll make a point exactly along the lines of my own thinking. I feel her words have helped validate who I am and that I can BE proud of who I am (just like years ago when Julia Cameron of “The Artists’ Way” fame gave me permission to be an artist) – not that I really needed anyone’s permission, but it opened the door. 

One of Brown’s biggest teachings is that by talking we find we are not alone. This is a practice that I’ve been working on for a long time. As human beings, we are connected, and we need that connectedness to maintain humanity. I agree with Brown that in sharing our stories, we can help inspire each another. We share ideas and life stories and find connection. I’ve often felt alone in my feelings or a situation, but the moment I mention it, I find others, too, have similar experiences. This is how we belong and belonging is one of the most primordial desires in us.

Anyway, I highly recommend Brown’s books. Look her up on the web and you can even watch TED Talk videos of her. Or, go to amazon.com and purchase her books. You won’t be sorry. She’s done work with women and men in all professions and she’s been a great help to our veterans struggling to return to civilian life.

I didn’t put the title of my writing in quotations because my point here just isn’t about Brown’s book, but in the act of daring greatly. Going back over Roosevelt’s speech, I feel I’ve been in the arena. My face is “marred by dust and sweat and blood.” I’ve stumbled and erred and come up short time and time again. There’s something comforting in knowing that when I fail, I, at least “fail while daring greatly.” 

I finished the reading and felt compelled to make a list of how I dare greatly. This is what I’ve come up with:

I dare greatly when:
  • I go on trips alone
  • I am the first to speak to others
  • I delve into my own feelings to better understand myself
  • I say with passion, “This is who I am!”
  • I go against the norm (in the past I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with me because I never wanted to do what everyone else was doing, wearing, watching, reading, etc.)
  • I choose to be different and like myself for it
  • I talk about myself, admit my fears
  • I say I don’t know … when I don’t know
  • I admit there are things I can’t do anymore 
  • I have to ask for help
  • I choose to be the authentic me
  • I leave the house and have to interact with others (believe it or not, that’s always been a struggle)
  • I put my work – writing, photography, drawings – out there for others to see
  • I admit my struggles and vulnerability


Think about how you dare greatly. What would be on your list?

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