I was fifteen at the time.  During the summers my mother would drop me off at the library once a week, and it was there that I got personally acquainted with a number of literary classics (not to mention music that you wouldn’t hear on Top 40 radio).  On one such visit I browsed some shelves I’d never noticed before, the Self-Help section. It must have been the title of this particular book that caught my eye, because the author was completely unknown to me, and the hardbound library copy itself was an unattractive little tome that looked beat-up and long dismissed.

“I DARE YOU!” the cover shouted at me, challenging me to pick it up, I felt.  The author, William H. Danforth, turned out to be the founder of Ralston Purina.  I think the cover may have even included the familiar checkerboard logo seen on their pet food.  The opening pages were enough to convince me that I should borrow this one to take home. I wouldn’t be disappointed.

I read this short but powerful book in less than a day, eager to devour all of its wisdom.  The pet food mogul was a master of friendly but forceful persuasion and I couldn’t wait to put his advice into practice. For a teenager who had been taught reading and writing in school but had never heard a word about the power of positive thinking, this unassuming, forgotten little find was an eye-opening miracle written just for me.

Skip ahead to a more recent year.  I was meeting with the pastor of a local church to discuss a video project he wanted me to produce.  I had attended his church many times and had always been impressed by his comfortable, confident style and authentic, agreeable personality.  This was a man who earned your respect through his humility and a readiness to laugh at himself and his imperfections.

We talked about the message he wanted to convey in his video, concepts of enthusiasm and empowerment, which were partially inspired, he said, by something he’d read many, many years ago.  “It was this little book called “I Dare You!”, said the pastor.  For a moment I wasn’t sure I’d heard right, but as if to finish his sentence, I added “By William H. Danforth!”  “Yes!” the pastor said, and we looked at each other in amazement.  Almost at the same time we both said, “How do you know about that book?”  As fate, kismet or divine providence would have it, we had both discovered it quite randomly as teenagers but were forever changed by it.  From that moment, the pastor and I knew we were coming from the same place, we developed an instant rapport and, as you can imagine, the video project went extremely well.

Over the years I have read countless books on personal growth and management, written by self-help greats and not-so-greats who make their living telling others how to do things better.   But it was this little book, stumbled upon accidentally, that first opened my eyes and told me that I not only had permission to dream, but also had the power to make those dreams come true.

Perhaps, unlike the pastor and myself, you’ve already heard about this magnificent book.  If not, I dare you to discover it for yourself and see what it does for you.