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Canyon, Texas

December 10, 2020

I started to read a new book last night, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. Ms Brown is a bit of a hero of mine as her book The Gifts of Imperfection given to me by a very special friend helped me begin to "get it together." (Eventually. As you've learned if you have read my blog, I am a bit of a slow learner. Ideas have a long gestation period with me.🧐)

I got goosebumps as I read her introduction to the book. "Ah-ha! Yes, I can relate to this ideas," was my reaction to her words.

Here is her introduction:

The phrase "Daring Greatly" is from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” The speech, sometimes referred to as “The Man in the Arena,” was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.

This is the passage that made the speech famous:

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.…”

The first time I read this quote, I thought, This is vulnerability. Everything I’ve learned from over a decade of research on vulnerability has taught me this exact lesson. Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional.

Our only choice is a question of engagement. 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 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.

Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be—a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation—with courage and the willingness to engage.

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.


You may have caught that Ms. Brown used the term "all in" in her discussion above. Whenever I hear "all in" I think of Dabo Swinney. Whatever you think of Dabo, you gotta respect his passion.

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