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Do You Dare?


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Brene Brown begins Daring Greatly (2012) with a passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech which is all about stepping in the “arena,” taking a risk, and being vulnerable. Brene asserts that vulnerability is not a weakness. “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.”  Brown continues by saying when we wait until we are perfect before we take action, we may lose opportunities or damage relationships. Our call to action is to “show up and let ourselves be seen.” 

Showing up is scary. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a legislative breakfast and discussion forum focused on women’s issues. I think I may have first learned about the event from a local publication’s newsletter, I can’t recall for sure. When I saw the brief description of the event, I wasn’t really clear if the “general public” was invited to attend, or if you were supposed to be some kind of somebody in order to go. 

As recently as two years ago, if I hadn’t been sure, I wouldn’t have gone. I wouldn’t have wanted to show up some where I wasn’t “supposed to be.”  But the topic was intriguing to me so I put it on my calendar anyway. The morning of the event, I started second guessing my decision to go. All the typical questions ran through my head: (What if I’m not supposed to be there? What if I don’t know anyone? How am I supposed to dress? I don’t do “politics” so should I stay home? …on and on…)

I went anyway. I rationalized that worse case scenario was that I learned when I got there that I wasn’t supposed to be there. So then I would leave. 

And I’m glad I went! I met some new people and ran into others that I knew. I engaged in wonderful dialogue with a group of women who were all also there because they care about women’s issues. I participated in round table discussions and shared my ideas. 

My fears were unfounded. There was no expectation that anyone there was going to know everything or have all the answers. Any idea was a good idea. They seemed to be truly looking for discussion, ideas, and action! 

I left so inspired, for a few reasons. First, there were some very young women there (even one still in high school!). These young women gave me hope for the future. Second, it seemed to be a supportive community of women who were there to learn and do their part to advance a cause they cared about.  Third, I received many wonderful ideas not only about how I can get involved and support solutions to these issues, but I also received ideas that I can apply in my business. Immediately. And beyond that, I saw connection to other volunteer and community-based organizations to which I belong. (Read a summary of what I learned on a recent LinkedIn blog post on this topic)

If I hadn’t shown up, if I had let me fear overcome my interest, if I had opted to stay safe and protected in my safe little shell, then I would have missed out on a wonderfully impactful experience. 

This is only one small example of how vulnerability and fear shows up in my life. When I let it keep me in my shell, I miss out on the possibility of what could otherwise be. 

When we stay safe or small, we can’t win. And to quote Brene once more, “there really is no triumph without vulnerability.” 

For Reflection
Where are you playing safe or small in your life? 
How will you dare to dream big? 

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