Standing on the shoulders of giants

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Standing on the shoulders of giants

One of the chapters in ‘True You‘ is about standing on the shoulders of giants, by doing that we begin to live in our truth and allow our children to confidently stand on our shoulders.

The chapter is about being honest about what we’ve walked through and sharing our stories. Brene Brown says, in the Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted, that story is our way home and truth is our song. As challenging as this can be I believe it to be true. We need to tell our truths bravely because it is part of our stories.  We have to let it be our song rather than the thing that holds us captive.

Below is an extract from the first chapter that talks about it in much more depth;

There is a seventeenth century concept that says we are “standing on the shoulders of giants.” This concept is perhaps most famously attributed to pioneering scientist Isaac Newton, who wrote in a letter dated in 1675 to his rival Robert Hooke. “What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

There have been earlier sources other than Newton that have been attributed this phrase. As early as the twelfth century, theologian and author John of Salisbury referenced this phrase. I love how great minds can generate such ideas and how they are shared! In his work, Metalogicon, written in Latin in 1159, he elaborates:

We frequently know more, not because we have moved ahead by our own natural ability, but because we are supported by the [mental] strength of others, and possess riches that we have inherited from our forefathers. Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to [puny] dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft their gigantic stature.

This idea of learning from and expanding on the beliefs and concepts of others is why I truly believe communities flourish when we gather and collaborate.

Because when we push each other higher, we can soar. I believe that I stand on the shoulders of giants. When I look throughout my family history, I see that I come from a line of strong women and men who paved a way for me. This compels me to live freely in the hope that my children and others will live beyond my limits.

Our children can stand on our shoulders. But this means we have to be honest and vulnerable with them about our truth. Many of us who have children have heard it said that you shouldn’t fight in front of them. This may be ideal, but it’s not often the reality. The question is how we should handle the truth of our public conflicts. Do we act like they never happened? What if we showed our children that despite arguments, we still work to come together and strengthen our marriages?

Why did I include this in the book? Because we live this out in our own lives. We had to face our truth and share the story so that our kids could live stronger healthier lives. If there was a vulnerability rating for this chapter it would certainly top the charts. According to some who did the pre-read for me for reviews, it’s one of their favourite chapters. Very real, indeed.

One of the early reviews below:

In a book that is honest and vulnerable, Susan Sohn opens the door for women to examine issues often left unspoken. Beautifully written, practical applications and words that are sure to transform lives! Jen R