Granddaughter Lilly, a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts, recently competed in a Tiger Schulmann MMA tournament and captured two 3rd place finishes. On the way home, she FaceTimed and of course she was disappointed because she has some rather nice 1st-place hardware in her room at home.



Photo credit: Pixabay


But by the time she and her dad stopped for lunch and she posted a photo to Instagram, here was her caption:

Win or lose, I left it all on the mats today.

I have a very wise 15-year-old granddaughter.

Lilly and I talked about how much courage it took to even get on the mats, and how every time we do something challenging, no matter the outcome, it makes us stronger, wiser, quicker on our feet.

She reminds me of her grandfather. Hubby left it all on the mats. He lived and died well with cancer, and I am the lucky one who got to walk beside him through this astonishing, sorrowful, sweet, heart-rending, faith-strengthening journey.

I happen to be in the middle of  Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. The title comes from President Roosevelt’s 1910 speech delivered in Paris, France. Most likely, you’ve heard the passage that made it famous:

It is not the critic who counts … 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 … but 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, how do you even begin to dare greatly? Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Determine your arena. What keeps you awake at night — not in anxiety, but in planning? What can you offer that would make the world a better place? Hubby and I both had a passion to share hope and practical tips for living well despite terminal cancer. Which pushed us out into uncomfortable places.

2. Prepare for your arena. Put in the hours of training; draft lesson plans, travel plans, a business plan; show up for class, for the commitment you made. Gary and I created a tag-team presentation and asked an oncologist friend to review it, who put together a critique team of healthcare professionals. We tweaked the message, established a non-profit, wrote for grant funding and booked speaking engagements. None of which we had ever done before.

3. Step in and dare greatly. At some point you need to stop preparing for the thing and actually do the thing. Make your candidate speech. Hang the sign over your shop and set an opening date. Submit your novel and let someone actually read what you’ve written. Put one foot in front of the other and step into the arena.

In her book, Brené Brown refers to her two TED Talks, one of which went viral:

Both of the talks are flawed and imperfect, but I walked into the arena and gave it my best shot. The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.

I’m stepping into an arena that involves public speaking and writing and seeking a literary agent and a publisher; it involves being vulnerable, showing my imperfections, setting myself up for rejection, maybe even placing last. What if I place last?

No matter, I’m showing up and leaving it all on the mats.

What about you? What is your arena, and how are you preparing to step into it?

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