(Note: This post has been revised and reposted from its original publication on January 2, 2014.)
Theodore Roosevelt once shared, “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 them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I have been in the arena on a continued quest to discover my life’s purpose and to live each day with passion. I have lost myself in some great books: Finding Your Element (Ken Robinson), How Will You Measure Your Life (Clayton Christensen), Start Something That Matters (Blake Mycoskie), Drive (Daniel Pink), and An Invisible Thread (Laura Schroff). I have spent countless hours seeking insight from TED and TEDx speakers from around the globe. Subscriptions to magazines such as SUCCESS, Inc., Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review have fueled my thinking along with academic lectures delivered through The Great Courses. I have followed the blog posts of an eclectic mix of leaders and philosophers, and I have written my own blog to reflect on the world around me and my experiences.
Through the years, I have grown. I have become more attuned to my strengths, more embracing of my fears, and more open to being vulnerable. I am definitely far from perfect, and I am committed to staying in the arena to live each day as my most authentic self.
Back in 2013, I began to immerse myself in the work of Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work, a New York Times bestselling author, and a nationally renowned speaker whose 2010 TEDx Houston talk is one of the most watched talks on Ted.com with over 12 million views. Dr. Brown writes, “We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.” These words and Dr. Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly, are the inspiration for my commitment to daring in the new year.
Dare to be your most authentic self.
Children’s book author, Ian Wallace, once asked, “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” We can spend our whole lives trying to please others by conforming to their interests and internalizing their judgments. Let’s push those critiques aside and chose to live a more authentic life where we form our own thoughts, share our own opinions, and stand proudly as a unique individual. We must be willing to accept that our choices will not please everyone. Root the choices that you make in your values, and use both your head and your heart to navigate along your life journey. Learn from the wisdom and experience of others, but do not follow blindly the path that others have taken merely because it is easier. Instead, walk in the direction of your dreams.
Dare to explore your imagination.
Embrace the words, “what if.” Challenge the status quo. Invent and create. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” When others say it is impossible or discourage you from advancing a new idea, embrace their words as a challenge to live a more imaginative life. When you feel confined by the comfort of routine, break away and venture off into your imagination to consider how you may shake the world up. Seek adventures in new places with new people that deliver experiences that challenge your perspective. Find inspiration in the words of Robert Kennedy, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
Dare to reach your potential.
We lost a great world leader in 2013 when Nelson Mandela passed away. The world was inspired by his unwavering commitment to change and his long journey to fulfilling his potential. The words of William Henley inspired Mandela throughout his time in prison: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Seize each day as an opportunity to learn and grow, to shape and evolve, and to challenge and celebrate. When you feel as though your potential has been met, push on and take pleasure in the surprise of how much more you have within.
Dare to inspire.
I believe that we are all joy seekers, waking each day in pursuit of something that puts a smile on our face, fills the air with laughter and gives us the feeling that we belong, that we are connected to something greater than ourselves. We each want to contribute something meaningful; we want our lives to have purpose. It is what fuels us day after day, week after week. We are drawn to those that inspire. Consider yourself a source of inspiration for others; chose your words and actions wisely. Remember that we each can create the joy that we seek and spread the compassion that we yearn for in life. When we celebrate our imperfections, it is a reminder that we are all human and interconnected with one another.
Dare to stay in the arena.
Life is hard. We each face challenges that we believe are insurmountable. Relationships have their bumps and bruises. Our work can lack inspiration which effects our motivation. Others may try holding us back in pursuit of their own gain. The internal conflicts that we grapple with each day impact our mood, actions and sense of self-worth. But we win each day that we return to the arena and stand ready to embrace whatever comes our way. We must trust in our own ability to survive, leverage the inspiration of others to stay in the game, confront our fears and accept our imperfections. If we step outside of the arena, we may never know what we are capable of achieving, our story will stand incomplete, and we will have deprived the world of the gifts we were born to share.
Let’s “dare greatly” together. Let’s support one another rather than knock each other down. Let’s inspire more and judge less. Benjamin Franklin once said, “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” Let’s not stand in the way of our own potential or allow others to dictate our next steps. Let’s move to the beat of our dreams and the rhythm of our soul with our head and heart in the game.
See you in the arena!