Thoughts on Temerity

If you haven’t read or heard the word ‘Temerity’ before, you’re not alone.

Similar to words such as meretricious and sophistic, it is a word that isn’t heard in everyday language, even though it probably should be.

Temerity is one of my favorite words.

It means to have excessive confidence, brashness or the audacity to do something. In layman’s terms you might say it means being ballsy.

In life, it seems that a healthy dose of temerity comes in very handy. When it comes to risk taking, giving yourself permission, or asking for what you want and need, it takes moving out (and staying out) of your comfort zone.

Courage is a good starting place. Yet, I believe it takes something more: temerity.

I’ve noticed that many people are simply ‘waiting’ in life. Waiting for the right time. Waiting for someone to tell them it’s okay. Waiting for the risk of failure or rejection to magically disappear.

Temerity flies in the face of waiting. It is the quality of artists, entrepreneurs, explorers and leaders. It is the cause of much of the progress we see in the world.

The truth is that the biggest rewards in life go unevenly to those who are willing to put themselves in a position of risk.

Let me clear here: I’m not just talking about financial rewards. I mean the rewards of having lived a full, engaged, worthwhile life.

Recently, I read Brene Brown’s excellent book Daring Greatly, a hugely valuable study of vulnerability and the willingness to face the world with honesty about who we are.

In a world where we all want to look good, being vulnerable is terrifying. Terrifying, yet essential.

I think having temerity and being vulnerable go hand-in-hand. You won’t risk much if you aren’t willing to just go for it. And you can’t risk anything without some vulnerability.

Personally for me, the desire to be a personal development writer and speaker is an act of temerity. Nobody told me it was okay to do it, nobody encouraged me to do it. I simply realized that I feel most alive when I am sharing ideas with others.

I had the temerity to start a blog, and then start speaking. From there, the world started to accept that this was part of who I was. Soon it became normal for me to do it.

Courage is what got me started. But temerity is what kept me going.

If you have something you truly want to do, something that feels important to you, it will require giving yourself permission to go for it.

Nobody but you is going to give you permission. Nobody but you really cares if you do it or don’t.

You get one life. You may as well be exactly who you want to be.
– DMS




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