Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech gets me every time. I can't read the words aloud without feeling a catch in my throat. The admonition that "It is not the critic who counts." The reminder of where "credit belongs." It's the kind of chin up, show up, get in there and do the thing pep talk that motivates us to push through fears and insecurities and strive. Maybe we'll succeed beyond our wildest dreams. Maybe we'll fail. But even if we do, at least we'll have failed "while daring greatly." It's also the inspiration for Brené Brown's bestselling book and my latest Let's Get Lit! pick.
I chose to revisit this nearly decade-old book to kick off 2021, because it felt like the right follow up to December's Big Magic to keep the momentum flowing. It's a reminder that showing up and living our truth won't always be easy. There's still work to do. Hard, deep work. There's a prescience early on when Brené references the impact of the formula of shame/comparison/disengagement on our culture and likens it to post-traumatic stress. She hypothesizes that it's what "happens when we've been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we're angry and scared and at each other's throats." Daring Greatly's main theme is that vulnerability is the key to courage and living with meaning and purpose.
What brings me back to the this book time and time again, is the realization Brené shares that, "Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands." All. The. Yes. Forget about the critics, the people who don't get it, the people who judge, the people committed to misunderstanding us, the people not in the arena with us. They have no power here. It's a reminder that has helped to drive me forward in my work, even in the face of my biggest fears and self-doubt, and it's one of my biggest takeaways from the book.
I'll discuss Daring Greatly in more detail and share other key takeaways in my monthly Let's Get Lit! Book Club discussion episode of Sparked, on Monday, 25 January.
In the meantime, check out this short clip of Brené sharing what daring greatly means to her.