Dare Greatly

I scream at itsy-bitsy spiders.

And prefer room service to trying a new restaurant in a foreign city.

If my husband startles me… in our own house… when I know he’s there, I can still jump what seems like 100 feet in the air.

There are many ways that I am a big chicken. I resist change, too: I eat at the same excellent restaurant for lunch, hate to do adventures, because I prefer the “known” to the “unknown” in ways big and small. Even my television programming choice / vice of Law & Order shows the preference of closure and clarity in the “everything is good” within 50 minutes.

That might surprise those of you who read my work and essays, or know how much I can be a boot-in-the-ass kind of person for an organization to shift to where they need to go. Doing more of what we did yesterday is rarely what is needed. Especially in these turbulent times.

But to create something new is to shift from what we know already works. It requires giving up something – our comfort zone, our ingrained knowledge, our sense of expertise, perhaps even our command of the current. And I suspect that perhaps the reason I write about the topic is because it’s a daily struggle. Fearlessness does not come naturally; it is a conscious moment by moment decision.

The difference between the life fully-lived and a small live is often fear.

Embracing fearlessness inspires one to approach life with an open heart, from which we can create, grow, and collaborate. We listen differently when we are fear-filled versus fearless, seeing what is possible. We act differently when we are fearless because we see more options as available to us. Embracing fearlessness is important and not “just” because it feels more alive. That’s important, but not enough for most of us to give up the death grip on knowingness. I’ve done enough research to realize that fearless is directly correlated to better results – growth, new ideas, and creative solutions to old problems.

So, as much as I want to be a big chicken around so many things, I choose instead to show up in the arena of life. (Luckily, I have a fair set of friends who serve as the boot-in-the-ass for me to help remind me of this choice.)

My friend and a fellow author, Brene Brown, starts her new book with this quote:

“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 (w0)man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if (s)he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

– Theodore Roosevelt.

It is not in the feeling of fear that good things start. It is in the action of courage that all greatness happens.

I had already purchased several copies of this book before Brene sent me a signed copy (Thanks, girl!) because I knew it was going to be great. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful framework for letting ourselves be fully alive. I will have to read it several times.

Watch her TED talk on Listening to Shame, here:

 

Her work is profound.  And, so is YOUR work. And your fearlessness. Share a story of 1 specific way in which you Dare Greatly, here.  It can be “small” or “big”. Of those that share by this Saturday, we’ll pick 2 lucky dogs (randomly) to get you a copy of the Brene’s book. You can also buy it here.

 

8 Responses:

  1. Alex. September 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm  |  

    Fear is like that monster under the bed when you were a kid: when you finally get up the nerve to crawl on the floor and shine your flashlight down there, you find out there’s nothing actually there. Then you realize there was nothing to be scared of at all.

    But to truly understand fearlessness, you have to first be deeply intimate with fear. For only when you truly understand fear and have been paralyzed by it at some point can you truly make friends with it and be FEARLESS.

    I used to be scared of speaking up, for fear that people would think my ideas are stupid or that I didn’t know what I’m talking about. It’s taken me a long time (thanks, in part, to you) to realize that my contributions are valuable and to not speak up is (usually) stupid.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post. Your fear is what makes you so fearless, Nilofer!

    Reply
  2. Eric Nehrlich. September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm  |  

    I am still working on overcoming the fear on a regular basis. I grew up working for good grades, and in my jobs, I have tended to toe the line rather than risk looking bad in front of my managers or coworkers.

    But a colleague recently offered me a new job at work. It is a job with potentially crazy scope and could very well be much more than I can handle. When I thought about it, I realized that the only hesitation I had about taking the job was my fear of failing in it. Which isn’t a good reason. So I’m going for it. And every time I take that step, face my fear, and find out the experience is not as bad as my lurking fear, it will get easier. Right?

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. September 19, 2012 at 7:21 am  |  

      Eric,

      Right.
      And you will also learn something. Any time we stretch beyond what we already know, we get to grow. Not always easy, but life isn’t about easy… It is about becoming who we are meant to become.

      Great story.
      N

      Reply
  3. Bonnie. September 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm  |  

    I felt like I “dared greatly” last week when I emailed you my vision statement for the courtesy of your feedback.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. September 19, 2012 at 7:19 am  |  

      You don’t need my feedback. Ask your friends and colleagues and mostly… Check in with yourself. Half the people I worked with for socialera, told me not to do it. They could very well be right, but that idea wouldn’t let me go.

      Reply
  4. Bonnie. September 19, 2012 at 8:31 am  |  

    Would still love to have your input….whatever it may be as there’s always something to learn or derive from words of wisdom….I do appreciate your comments here..

    Reply
  5. Gaurav Kapil. September 19, 2012 at 11:27 am  |  

    I’m a Corporate person, a typical Engineer + MBA (HR) working in Fortune 100 company.

    And… I started learning dance in 2009 in Kolkata (India) after realizing that my body was stiffer. Dance was being learned secretly, hidden, shying away from informing any of my colleagues, neighbors or even friends. I recently moved to Mumbai and joined classes again.

    My new dance guru told me (coerced me with best of feminine charms) to participate in two different dance forms. Reluctantly practicing, I literally was thinking of hiding somewhere, or even getting fake hospitalization.

    But I went on stage to keep honour of my word, respect for my teacher & dance partner.

    Guess what… We won Silver medals in both dance forms in State level Dancesports competition.

    I have realized ‘to show up’ despite your fears, social ridicules, work pressures is a great asset in long term.

    Reply
  6. Nilofer Merchant. September 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm  |  

    Alex and Gaurav will you please email me (first name at first name and last name dot com) your address so I can get you Brene’s book. Thanx and congratulations on daring greatly.

    Reply

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