I n 1931, William H. Danforth presented his “Four-Square” philosophy to the world in his book entitled I DARE YOU!

Born in 1870, Danforth founded the Ralston Purina Company and believed that we should “aspire nobly, adventure daringly and serve humbly.” His book presents timeless wisdom in a very simple and straightforward manner.

From his preface:

“I DARE YOU is for the daring few who are headed somewhere. Those afraid to Dare might as well pass it up. It will weary the lazy because it calls for immediate action. It will bore the sophisticated, and amuse the skeptics. It will antagonize others. Some will not even know what it is all about. It will not be over popular because it calls for courage, swift and daring. But in the eyes of you, one of the priceless few, I trust will come a renewal of purpose as you read on. You can be a bigger person than you are and I am going to prove it to you.”

Below are Danforth’s dares with paraphrased summaries:

  • I Dare You To Adventure — Life is a glorious adventure, if you face problems aggressively, they are half-solved. If you aspire to larger responsibilities, they will meet you half way.
  • I Dare You To Do Things — Wars and emergencies discover many unopened doors in people’s lives. Why not declare war? Why not put a bomb under your capacities? Why not force a crisis? Without some such incentives to stir souls to action, many live and die without realizing the sleeping giants within them. The more you pour out, the more you find to pour.
  • I Dare You To Be Strong — Health is the foundation for individual success and a nation’s progress. From 1931: I DARE YOU TO EXERCISE! Keep yourself fit and enjoy the consequences. Attack it in the right attitude. In this chapter Danforth even offers specific exercises! ShaunT would be proud!
  • I Dare You To Think Creatively — Daring people can’t afford not to think. The big prizes are for those who dare to think hard, to think often, to think creatively. Ideas have always been the dynamos that move civilizations forward. Then, share your ideas. Remember that valuable possessions multiply when shared.
  • I Dare You To Develop A Magnetic Personality — Look for the best in people. Learn to like people. Develop the fine art of finding, making and keeping friends by genuine giving of your time and personality to others. The more you give, the more you’re capable of giving.
  • I Dare You To Build Character — How dependable am I? How honest? It is not for me to tell you what your Spiritual Dare should be. Don’t worry about your few little loaves. Invest what you have. Catch some great challenge of service. You can do great deeds under a “Magnificent Obsession”.
  • I Dare You To Share — Our most valuable possessions are those which can be shared without lessening, those which, when shared, multiply; our least valuable possessions are those which, when divided, are diminished. Truly, our physical, mental, social and spiritual selves multiply many times when they are shared.

I dare you to take Danforth’s challenge to Stand Tall, Think Tall, Smile Tall and Live Tall.

So, what will it be?

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