I recently came across a small book from another era. It was written by the late William Danforth, the founder of the Nestle Purina Company. In addition to his business pursuits, Mr. Danforth dedicated his life to helping youth, and traveled the country with a simple message for youngsters:
In order to really enjoy the life God has blessed you with, you need to be square – as in living a “four square” life that includes play, work, love and worship. It’s not OK to master one out of the four or even three out of the four – you’re only going to be as strong as your weakest quadrant.
Because of Mr. Danforth’s business platform, his words are not evangelical in nature, but by contemporary accounts, they are rooted in his strong Christian beliefs. In the 1930s, he wrote the book of which I referenced above. It was titled, I Dare You!, and unpacks many of his solid principles.
I want to share an excerpt of his introduction. Some of the language is dated, but you’ll still catch the essence of his message. You might consider printing this out and tacking it on a board to read and reread. You might even consider passing this on to a son or daughter or friend.
Do you find yourself – or someone you love — somewhere in this list? If you do, I dare you to act.
I DARE YOU!
I Dare You, young man, who come from a home of poverty — I dare you to have the qualities of a Lincoln.
I Dare You, heir of wealth and proud ancestry, with your generation of worthy stock, your tradition of leadership — I dare you to achieve something that will make the future point to you with even more pride than the present is pointing to those who have gone before.
I Dare You, young mother, to make your life a masterpiece upon which that little family of yours can build. Strong women bring forth strong men.
I Dare You, boys and girls, to make life obey you, not you it. It is only a shallow dare to do the foolish things. I dare you to do the uplifting, courageous things.
I Dare You, young executive, to shoulder more responsibility joyously, to launch out into the deep, to build magnificently.
I Dare You, young author, to win the Nobel prize.
I Dare You, young researcher, to become a Microbe Hunter.
I Dare You, man of affairs, to have a “Magnificent Obsession.”
I Dare You, Grandfather, with your roots deep in the soil and your head above the crowd, catching the rays of the sun, to plan a daring program to crown the years of your life.
I Dare You, who think life is humdrum, to become involved. I dare you who are weak to be strong; you who are dull to be sparkling; you who are slaves to be kings.
I Dare You, whoever you are, to share with others the fruit of your daring. Catch a passion for helping others and a richer life will come back to you!