“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Horse, “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. 

And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Horse only smiled. “Someone made me real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Velveteen Rabbit


The development work we do for ourselves and others is aimed at allowing us and others to live our life on purpose – to live with intention, energy, and focus. But, as we constantly experience, to do that is hard work.

And that is where our innerwill comes in. Because, by the end, in the middle, and sometimes even at the beginning, it feels as if our hair has been loved off (and we have to see ourselves differently), our eyes have fallen (and we have to remember to hold them high), our joints hurt (and our heart hurts, our courage falters, and our head is filled with ‘I can’ts’ and soft whispers of ‘I cans’), and we can become very shabby.

And that’s how we know this is all real. 

So how can we help give hope when we or the people we are inspiring feel shabby? How can we remind them of the beauty in the hardness?

It is the capacity to withstand those times when we feel the most real, the most seen, the most vulnerable, that we grow our resilience. And growing our resilience gives us the opportunity to look back over our courageous moments and realize that once you discover the best version of you – once you know what that looks like, sounds like, acts like – you don’t want to become unreal again. And you want it to last for always.



Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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