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 Anatomy of a Dare


Anatomy of a Dare

Christa Hesselink

DARE: to have the boldness to try;

to venture; to meet defiantly; face courageously.


I do a lot of thinking about the meaning of a dare and what it takes to accept one.

 I think it's because I'm realizing that most of my life feels like one big dare.  I'm always a bit hesitant to step into the unknown. And yet I've come to learn that the unknown is exactly where I'm being called into. Every. Single Day.

If I'm living as the best version of myself, I'm living a life full of faith in things I can't see.

I have faith that Love is the most powerful thing around, and yet it seems like it's in short supply in myself and others when I go looking for it.  I believe that I can change and so can others, even when I feel stuck in a rut that's carved deep.  I have hope that even the most broken and tragic things in life can be turned around and restored. 

Yes, living boldly, courageously, and even defiantly requires that I get comfortable with accepting a dare.

So here's what I've been learning: I like to think of a dare as being made up of these four elements.

D: doubt

A: awareness

R: run

E: exhilaration


D oubt

American author, Anne Lamott once said that, “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty.” When I don’t have the imagination for something I can’t see, my doubts will get the best of me. 

You see, doubt isn’t the problem when it comes to stepping into a dare; it’s when we let our need for utmost clarity and certainty hijack our next step.  If I'm wanting to making an important change in my life; if I want to live more intentionally and healthily--it  will always include a measure of doubt. There's an inherent risk involved in stepping into unknown territory—that’s okay—it’s our opportunity to lean on faith.

A wareness

A dare puts us in touch of what makes us afraid but it also makes us aware of the grit we’ve got to do it. 

When we become aware of how a dare makes us feel, we can begin to step boldly into the new venture we're feeling compelled towards. Tuning into these feelings is a way of laying the "puzzle pieces" out in order to see what the picture is.  

So, spread out those pieces. What is the “grit” (bravery, courage, tenacity, perseverance) you have to take your next step? What do you need to do to keep being brave? 

R un

When someone dares you to do something, you have one of two choices. Do it. Or don’t. You can run in either direction.

If someone dares me to jump off the end of the dock into a cold lake I can either run off into the water or run back to my dry chair. A dare is powerful because it exposes the risk it will take to experience the adventure, but also the risk in staying put. Both have the potential to lead to regret. The question is, which will you regret more – staying put, or getting into it.

When you consider something in your life you’d like to change, what are the two directions you could go?  

How much regret will you have if you don’t pursue the change you want to see? 

We learn to swim by swimming. We learn to courage by couraging.
— Brene Brown

E xhilaration

To accept a dare means to be exhilarated! But it’s important to know what this word actually means.  It doesn’t mean cozy or comfortable.  Here are some words that are synonyms of “exhilaration”.

Consider the words below. What are the feelings you enjoy the most? Which feelings haven't you felt in a long while?

happy, animated, elated, thrilled, excited

intoxicated, delighted, enlivened,invigorated, energized

vitalized, stimulated, electrified, uplifted, refreshed

stirred, breath-taken, mind-blown

Notice which emotions make you the most uncomfortable. Why do you think that is? Is there anything you can do to get more comfortable with some of these feelings as you prepare to dare?

One of my favourite quotes comes from Soren Kierkegaard. He says, "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose one's life."

I don't want to lose my whole life because I'm held back by my doubts. I want to be awake and aware to the reality that I have options to live a great story - a story that heals myself and the brokenness I see in the world.  I want to run right into those places where I momentarily lose my footing and feel the exhilaration of new adventures.  I want to take risks that have the power to change things.


If you found this post helpful, sign up to receive your free copy of Plotting Forward: making our days matter. It's a 35 page workbook that includes activities like this one, "Anatomy of a Dare", to guide you towards making the most of the life you've been given. 

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