What does it mean to dare greatly?Earlier this year, I made a major change in my life. It was a decision that I thought about no more than a few short days.

I left the business I started in 2012.

The short length of time it took to make the decision might give the illusion that it was an easy choice. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was actually incredibly difficult. Leaving a position of relative comfort is often like that.

However, the aftermath of the decision reassured me that I did the right thing, and it set off a chain reaction of “daring greatly” in my life.

You dare greatly when you stop listening to the voices in your head (and your ears).

I struggled with feeling like a failure at times, but friends (including my former business partner) helped me recognize that I wasn’t being very kind to myself.

I’m really proud of the things I did in those three years. I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of doing.

I’m lucky that I didn’t have to tune out voices of people in my life – friends and family were all very supportive. But I know that happens. I’ve been there in other situations.

For me, the voices in my head, screaming reminders of all the limiting beliefs I hold about myself, were loud and clear and drowned out good sense for a while.

You dare greatly when you choose to stretch yourself.

After walking away, I knew that I didn’t want to just go back to working full-time. So, I launched a website to offer freelance services.

It didn’t take me very long to determine that I wanted to focus primarily on writing, and continue helping businesses with strategic digital marketing. These are two things I really enjoy. One allows me to be creative (even when it’s business writing), and the other allows me to help other businesses, because I love helping other businesses!

I have started to seek out opportunities to write for other blogs, and eventually I hope to expand to other publications, such as magazines and newspapers. I’ve also tried to keep myself to a schedule where I blog at least once a week on my own blogs.

I’ve established a routine for writing. I get up early in the morning to have quiet time to focus. The value of taking this step is worth transitioning my sleep habits. It means less leisure time for reading and TV and other time-wasting activities, but it means better sleep and more productivity.

It’s not just about me, though. My husband and I regularly communicate about what is going on and what is realistic for me to do as I seek out freelance jobs, and my other writing pursuits. This led to me attending the Chicago Writers Conference. By myself. I didn’t know any of the attendees. (This was huge for me.)

You dare greatly when you separate your worth from the outcome of your dreams.

One of the most valuable lessons that came out of owning a business and ultimately leaving that business was the sure knowledge that my worth is not tied to my successes or failures. I am getting better at articulating and expressing my desires and dreams.

At the writing conference I attended, I could have probably gotten rich if I had a dollar for every time someone said they didn’t want to self-publish; they wanted a book deal. For me, I just want to be a published author. I’m not going to limit the success of that outcome by defining it so rigidly.

We all deserve to feel that what we do is valued and valuable. So, never let anyone make you feel that your success is anything less than you believe it to be.

The Man in the Arena

Try

In May, a few weeks after Lara and I announced I was leaving our business, I finally read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Reading that book helped me get through the feelings I had and spurred me to think long and hard about what I really want to do.

The quote that the book title was inspired by has turned into my mantra:

“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.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

The idea that trying was more important than success was something I clung to. I tried my hand at running a business. I didn’t fail. I didn’t reach the heights of success. But I tried. I know I didn’t always give it the attention it deserved, but I worked very hard and the results will always be a point of pride for me.

This is the key. Without the determination to try, you cannot ever succeed, regardless of the definition you use for success in your life and work.

Will you get in the arena with me?