Dare Greatly – How and Why?

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Heads of Department retreat. One of the sessions was led by Mr. Goodman and he asked us to read and reflect on some quotes all related to perfectionism. After sharing our quotes, the five people sitting around my table discussed similar stories of times we avoided something that may have been great or fun or rewarding for fear of failure, imperfection or judgment from others….and all agreed how limiting and stifling those experiences were. Looking back to the distance (and not so distant) past, made us all nostalgic for “what might have been” had we really leaned into that discomfort at the time or had we been able rise above the worries of judgment.Where could that have gone? How would we have grown? What would have happened?

 Last week, I introduced the 2nd theme of our Leadership Development series: Your Strengths.

 You may or may not have had time to sit and think about what your personal and unique strengths are but I am sure you will each quickly be able to think of a time when you backed off, kept your hand down, or turned away instead of stepping up.


Fear of failure, fear of judgment, and the paralysing thoughts of “what will they say?”

The whole essence of leadership is having an ability to see how things can be better, how others can be elevated, to be creative, to be unique, and to think of solutions that have been missed. You are all leaders. To develop your skills and resilience as a leader, you must be confident in your strengths, acknowledge your talents and gifts. You must also be willing to step up.

You have no control over others, only yourself.

This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes. An excerpt from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt which has been called “the Man in the Arena.”

“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, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 So two action items for the week.

Action #1: Dare Greatly.

You have strengths and should continue to develop them. These are things that are fun and interesting to you. Where you see yourself adding value. 

Don’t shy away or only give 75% effort to something that may nourish your strengths….step up, raise your hand, and dare greatly.

Action #2: Don’t be a critic.

Don’t be that person who is looking for others to fail or stumble. There is no growth there. If you spend your time judging, you will expect to be judged and it will be harder for you to step up. No one wins. Be supportive. Give a high five! Say “Good Job!” or even just smile. Imagine knowing that others have your back in the same way when you are “in the arena”.

Thinking about missed opportunities is a futile exercise and one that I don’t want you to waste your time doing…..but, from now on, challenge yourself when your inner voice is telling you that you have something to offer. Listen to it! Grow. Learn. Be imperfect.

If you are looking for some resources on imperfection and courage. Check our Dr. Brene Brown – her books can be found in the library or in the leadership office.


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