Daring Greatly (1)

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”2

This is me stepping into the arena, leaning into the discomfort of being vulnerable and pursing something I have always wanted to do: write.

Over the last two years I have been navigating federal employment. No one told me it was basically a 16th century expedition to the New World, filled with rough waters, crazy crews and debilitating disease. I began my federal career in quarantine, literally, or at least it felt like that. My supervisor and all the managers in my office were on travel the first two weeks I started work. So I sat in a cube, reading. Yay! I’m so glad I spent $60,000 in higher education to come and read. Sound familiar to anyone? I felt unwelcomed and undervalued. As I set sail for the New World, I struggled to find my sea legs, understand the new lingo (although the pirate language setting on Facebook really helped) and peg my role amongst a “well-seasoned” crew.

People tried to warn me; they said it was infectious, but before I knew it I had succumb to the scurvy. Scurvy in this federal workplace journey was a gradual disengagement, sunken morale and a truly painful workplace experience that may or may not have included crying. Before you say it, I know; there is no crying in baseball3, but this isn’t baseball, it’s some horrible journey to the “New World”, which I doubt even exists any more. I swear this boat is going in circles.

I searched for a life boat, but life boats don’t exist in the 16th century, apparently it is the French who invented them in the 18th century – who knew4. I was at a loss. I knew two things: first, my survival depended on change and second, I needed help. In the spring of 2012 I participated in the GovLoop Mentor program and found that help. Through that relationship and the other partnerships she helped me forge I began to discover the treasure, myself. I unearthed my confidence, found my sea legs, saw land – my future, for the first time. You would think with treasure like that, nothing could keep you from it. The truth is I doubted there was any treasure, and even when I let myself believe in the treasure I doubted that I was worthy of it. So I resisted and struggled in the journey, but time and persistence revealed change and the activities lead to accomplishment.

I’m still on the boat, facing the same challenges and with the same people. Mostly the same people, we lost a few people along the way, but it’s to be expected (three retirements, one promotion and one just went overboard. Don’t worry, she’s a good swimmer and another crew picked her up). I’ve given myself a new mission (curious, stay tuned for blog post numero dos). I want to use this blog as a way of sharing that mission and as a space to discuss how we all can dare greatly.


1. If you haven’t heard of Brené Brown and her research on vulnerability, you’re missing out. Check out these two TED talks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0

Then if you’re interested do what I did and buy the book Daring Greatly.

2. Theodore Roosevelt “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910 http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

3. I love Tom Hanks and a League of Their Own. Go ahead, click here and watch the excerpt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx8cCDthsuk

4. So it’s from Wikipedia, recite at your own risk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Lukin

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David B. Grinberg

Nice first post, Sabrina, very inspiring. Welcome aboard!

I wish you smooth sailing. However, If and when you hit rough waters just hold on tightly and do your best until the storm passes, the sky clears, the sea becomes gentle, and rays of sun light break through the dark clouds.

Kathleen Schafer

Sabrina . . . not only are you a wonderful writer, you are exactly what our government and our country needs–a new generation of leaders who know themselves and ground their actions in a deep commitment to making the world a better place. You have enriched my work through our connection and I am grateful to GovLoop for making it possible!

Kerry Ann O'Connor

Sabrina, we need more conversations about Brene Brown’s work. Innovation requires vulnerability. We don’t do vulnerability in government, and we need to.

Keep up the awesome, please!

Sabrina H. DeLay

Thank you guys for the comments.

David and Kathleen: Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Scott: What I love about that snippet is the reminder that we have to choose to use our strengths and talents and that choice isn’t always easy.

Kerry: I completely agree! We don’t do vulnerability in government and its limiting our ability to make connections and create change. Brené’s work has been so meaningful to me; I have no doubt I will turn to her ideas again in future post.