Book Summaries

Book Summary – I Dare You! by William H. Danforth

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“You have a four-fold life to live: a body, a brain, a heart and a soul-these are your living tools. To use and develop them is not a task. It is a golden opportunity.”–William H. Danforth

In I Dare You! American businessman challenges the reader to be more daring, courageous, swift and deliberate. Most of the leaders in Mr. Danforth’s organization were boys who came from humble surroundings and were dared by him to achieve high accomplishments.

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.

  • I Dare You, young man, you 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 generations of worthy stock, your traditions 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 you. 
  • 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, debutante, to be a queen. 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, freshman, to make the varsity team. I Dare You, young author, to win the Nobel prize. 
  • I Dare You, young researcher, to become a Microbe Hunter. I Dare You, barefoot boy on the farm, to become a Master Farmer—A Hunger Fighter. 
  • 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 start a fight.
  • 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 fruits of your daring. Catch a passion for helping others and a richer life will come back to you!

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.

 It was ridiculous for David to fight Goliath. Foolishness for Columbus to try to sail around the earth. Nonsense for the Wright Brothers to dream they could fly. But suppose they hadn’t tried?

Be Daring

The only reason you are not the person you should be is that you don’t dare to be. Once you dare, once you stop drifting with the crowd and face life courageously, life takes on a new significance. New forces take shape within you. New powers harness themselves for your service.

The world is full of unused talents and latent ability. The reason these talents lie buried is that the individual hasn’t the courage to dig them up and use them. Everybody should be doing better than he is, but only a few dare. Prospectors for gold tell us that gold is where they find it. It may be in the bed of a river or on the mountain top. And prospectors for courage tell us the same thing. The one who dares may be found in a cottage or in a castle. But wherever you live, whoever you are, whatever you have or have not—if you dare, you are challenged to enlist in a great cause.


So many are preys to fear. You fear losing your job. You fear sickness or hard times or failure. But remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquest of it. Not until you dare to attack will you master your fears.

It is a tragedy indeed to see an ambitious person striving after some goal he has neither the energy nor ability to reach. But it is a thousand times greater tragedy and, alas, a more common one, to see Generals and Vice-Presidents, spiritual and mental leaders, passing by unnoticed as street car conductors, section hands, and bell hops.

The Four Side

What are the hidden resources to look for? What are these sleeping giants within us? There are four of them—the physical, the mental, the social, and the spiritual. Life can- not be complete unless we develop all four sides. Each side that is developed in turn stimulates the other three sides. “All for one and one for all.

The Physical: Keeping Fit

Keeping fit is not a tedious job. Treating your body with the ordinary care you give your automobile or your dog is not a nuisance. Giving your body the stimulation of good, wholesome food is more fun than doping it with artificial stimulants. Again I challenge the scoffers who say that living right is not more thrilling than living wrong. You can keep yourself fit and enjoy doing it.

Make it a game. Make it the hard thing to do not to eat right, not to take regular exercises, not to get the proper amount of sleep. You can play bridge until midnight, but not every night and feel rested in the morning.

There is no secret to good health other than just plain, good common sense. You wouldn’t let your automobile go along, week after week, month after month, without the proper mixture of oil and gas and overhauling. Why, under heaven, do you expect your body to carry on without at least the same consideration? You wouldn’t keep a dog or a horse cooped up in a stall all day without a chance to stretch its legs. Then why expect to avoid trouble if you treat your own priceless machine in such a manner? Everybody knows these things, but so few do anything about it. I have never been able to understand why people are not willing to pay the small price for good health.

The Mental: Think Creatively

Today, ideas get an audience immediately. Industry is at the feet of creative thinkers begging for ideas.

Most of the unexplored regions of the world may have been discovered, but what a field lies ahead for the mental Columbus, the thinking Peary, the planning Byrd. Physical adventure promises not half the thrill of mental adventure. Physical life brings happiness, but mental life brings interest—a consuming, absorbing interest.

Dr. Holmes, a noted psychologist, says that 95% of people think an aimless, desultory, gossipy flow of ideas and only 5% aim definitely direct, and definitely arrive at conclusions.

You have to train for your mental crusade just as you train for your physical game of life. You can do that in the same time you spend on the comic page in the daily paper. It will benefit you a lot more.


Personality is an illusive thing. Good looks, good habits, good education, fine family, magnificent supply of the best of life to draw from, and yet something lacking in the connections.

A millionaire in money is nothing compared to being a millionaire in friends, and everyone can be this, provided you keep these friends when you make them. And thoughtfulness in little things is the best way I know to keep them.

Be your own self with all people whether they be prince or pauper. This may sound like a bromide, but look around you at the people you know. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world so constituted that they are always licking the boots of those over them and lording it over those under them. That’s a sure way to destroy personality. On the other hand, really great men and women are those who are natural, frank and honest with everyone with whom they come into contact.


Hidden down in every man is some of the di- vine. It is this spark that I am daring you to turn into a blaze. It is the spirit that naturally makes you do the right thing at the right time. 

Strength and courage are essential in the development of the physical, mental, and social sides of life. 

Lift your thoughts above the commonplace. Think on noble things. Soon you are on a higher level. If you consider religion something to be put up with, it becomes a drudgery. Exercise and study are a drudgery to one in the wrong mental attitude. But if you consider the building of character, or ethics, or morals, or religion— whatever you choose to call it—as an opportunity to grow, then the unseen things of life take on a new significance. 

Physical strength demands exercise. Mental alertness demands study. Winsome personality thrives on service. Religious growth requires action, the actual doing of right things instead of the wrong. We advance only by doing.

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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