Finally found a way outI love engaging with new clients, particularly those with a historical foundation of values. I love learning about how their organizations embrace and embed the values that they want demonstrated by leaders and team members.

One such client was founded by William H. Danforth, who’s book, I Dare You!, is a classic in the self-help field.

Written in 1931, Danforth describes how a teacher challenged him – dared him – to become the healthiest, strongest boy in his middle school class. Danforth met that challenge and created expectations for himself in four areas as he grew up.

In the book (also available here), Danforth dares the reader to become their best self. He dares one to embrace this “Four-Square Life,” creating balance and strength of body, mind, character, and personality.

Danforth calls these the four “talls” – stand tall (physical well-being), think tall (mental well-being), live tall (religious or spiritual well-being), and smile tall (social well-being).

Though the examples are dated, the ideas in Danforth’s book are well worth reading. The book presents these challenges in compelling ways. Questions and dares to consider include:

Stand Tall – How good is your physical condition? What is a fitness standard you will exceed in the coming year? What weakness will you overcome this year, like eliminating illness? What is your big physical dare for the year ahead? What will you definitely DO about this?

Think Tall – What habits keep you from thinking clearly & proactively? How creative a thinker are you? What “big ideas” have you pondered? What dreams have you put into action? What long-standing problem are you willing to think about, all the way to solution? What is your big mental dare for the year ahead?

Live Tall – How strong is your moral courage? What is your great cause – your magnificent obsession – in life, and how do you pursue it daily? (If you’re not DOING pursuit, it’s only a dream.) How have you dared to improve your dependability and honesty? What is your big spiritual dare for the coming year?

Smile Tall – Does your personality attract, engage, and inspire others? Do you demonstrate the capacity for friendship daily? Are you a greater or lesser factor in your community than you were a year ago? Is jealousy, grumpiness, or lousy temper increasing or decreasing in your life? What is your big social dare for the coming year?

How well do you live a balanced and strong Four-Square Life? Gauge the degree of your four talls, rating each on a scale of 1-5. Live a 5-5-5-5 life, and you are your best self. If you’re not certain how well you’re living a tall, invite feedback from the truth-tellers around you.

Don’t settle for your mediocre self – create the conditions to live your #BestSelf, every day.

What do you think? What “talls” do you demonstrate consistently? What people in your life are exemplar examples of one’s best self, and why? What are your big dares for 2014?  Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers enjoy two “fabulous and exclusive gifts” which include my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

I invite you to add your experiences to two “fast & free” research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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