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“Daring Greatly“ - Prologue and Introduction

Fool Hollow Lake

March 17, 2020

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

I have been at it again - reading a book that has changed me. The subtitle of this book is “how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.” The book uses sticky words like shame, guilt, not enough, connection, worthiness, compassion, Imperfection, perfectionism, Wholeheartedness and of course vulnerability. As the author describes the walls we erect around ourselves, I kept thinking “how does she know that about me?”

This is not a how to book. For me, it was an awakening book.

This book might not be for everyone. I’m sharing my summary in case one person reads it and an idea clicks with them.

So that I don’t overwhelm you with a 40 page summary at one time, I’lshare my summary one chapter per day.


Prologue - What It Means to Dare Greatly

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 errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and 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 fails while daring greatly .…

This is vulnerability.

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.

Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.

Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.

Introduction: Adventures in the Arena

My old strategy - Keep everyone at a safe distance and always have an exit strategy.

Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.

We have a tendency to define things by what they are not. This is especially true of our emotional experiences.

The Wholehearted – people who are the most resilient to shame and who believe in their worthiness. Shame is that belief that we are so flawed we are not worthy of love and connection.

Too many of us think that we’re not enough — that we’re not worthy of love and belonging.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, I defined ten “guideposts” for Wholehearted living that point to what the Wholehearted work to cultivate and what they work to let go of:

- Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think

- Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

- Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

- Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

- Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

- Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison

- Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

- Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

- Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self - Doubt and “Supposed To”

- Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and Always in Control

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

This definition is based on these fundamental ideals:

1. Love and belonging are irreducible needs of all men, women, and children. We’re hardwired for connection — it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering.

2. If you roughly divide the men and women I’ve interviewed into two groups — those who feel a deep sense of love and belonging, and those who struggle for it — there’s only one variable that separates the groups: Those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. They don’t have better or easier lives, they don’t have fewer struggles with addiction or depression, and they haven’t survived fewer traumas or bankruptcies or divorces, but in the midst of all of these struggles, they have developed practices that enable them to hold on to the belief that they are worthy of love, belonging, and even joy.

3. A strong belief in our worthiness doesn’t just happen -- it’s cultivated when we understand the guideposts as choices and daily practices.

4. The main concern of Wholehearted men and women is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection.

5. The Wholehearted identify vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. In fact, the willingness to be vulnerable emerged as the single clearest value shared by all of the women and men whom I would describe as Wholehearted. They attribute everything - from their professional success to their marriages to their proudest parenting moments - to their ability to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.

Many of us find refuge in our old friends, prediction and control. They aren’t the ticket.

I believe the key to our breakthrough is shame - how we have to understand it and work through it if we really want to dare greatly.

The core issues are the same for many of us: fear, disengagement, and yearning for more courage.

Parenting is a shame minefield. The real question for parents is: “Are you engaged?” Plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found that what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.

My maps - or theories - on shame resilience, Wholeheartedness, and vulnerability have been drawn from the data I’ve collected over the past dozen years — the experiences of thousands of men and women who are forging paths in the direction that I, and many others, want to take our lives.

What we all share in common is the truth that forms the very core of this book: What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable. The first step of that journey is understanding where we are, what we’re up against, and where we need to go. I think we can best do that by examining our pervasive “Never Enough” culture. Onto Chapter 1.

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