Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
From thought leader Brené Brown, a transformative new vision for the way we lead, love, work, parent, and educate that teaches us the power of vulnerability.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.
Book Review by Heather Saffer
Last week I was sitting outside a coffee shop reading a book on my kindle when a youngish guy walked by carrying a coffee and a computer, looking for a place to sit.
Since all of the tables were occupied and he was looking a bit displaced, I offered him a seat at my table. Relieved, he sat down and expressed his gratitude. I promptly went back to my reading but I could feel his eyes boring into me as I anticipated the dreaded question.
“What are you reading?” he finally blurted.
Now I know this is neither a profound nor earth-shattering inquiry but there were two problems at hand here.
One, I’m terrible at summarizing books. Just awful. (Which you’re about to discover.) There’s just something about the vast amount of information that I’m pressured to wrap into one or two sentences that completely overwhelms and paralyzes me.
And two, I was reading a book about shame and vulnerability. Which ironically, I was ashamed to admit for fear of being vulnerable. Clearly, I had just started reading the book.
Part of me was tempted to lie to youngish guy by replying, “oh, it’s just some silly novel.”
But then it occurred to me how shameful it would be to lie about reading a book about shame and vulnerability instead of just being vulnerable. Besides, as I’m sure it’s obvious–I could use the practice.
“I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. It’s about shame and vulnerability and how shame can truly only dissipate by allowing yourself to be vulnerable”, I quickly blurted.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable led Patrick and I into a conversation for the next hour. Patrick, if you’re reading this, c’était une joie pour vous rencontrer. (If this is wrong I blame Google translate.)
This moment of unabashed vulnerability with Patrick was the beginning of a major shift in my life. And I have Daring Greatly to thank for that.*
I’ve always been one to be honest and open but Brene Brown’s writing in Daring Greatly takes openness to another level.
She reinforces what I’ve known all along but been afraid of admitting–that vulnerability leads to happiness. Or as Brown calls it, “wholeheartedness”.
And I, and maybe you too, could damn well use some wholeheartedness in my life.
We’re living in a culture of `never enough’. I’m certainly feeling it. Are you? I never work hard enough, I don’t help others enough, I’m not successful enough, I don’t eat healthy enough… and on and on.
These thoughts of `never enough’ turn into feelings of shame and fear. How do we combat shame and fear? By being vulnerable and expressing gratitude, according to Brené Brown. And now, according to me.
Following Brene’s advice and expertise garnered through her research and life stories, truly does work.
It was the reading of Daring Greatly that prompted me to finally divulge my long kept secret of my history with an eating disorder; which wound up being my highest trafficked blog post of all time. As Brown explains, we’re drawn to other’s vulnerability but repelled by our own.
Are you living with shame? Do you always feel an underlying itch of `never enough’? Do you find yourself disconnecting from people you love? If any of these questions ring true then I hope you’ll read this book for yourself. Even if they don’t ring true, read this book. It truly is a game changer.
Buy It Right. This. Minute. Sit your butt down for an hour, and start reading. I promise you won’t want to stop. I promise.Then come back to me and practice your newfound vulnerability. I’ll appreciate and love every drop of the real you. And eventually, you will too. That’s the truth.
*If you’ll note the vulnerability here in that I’m attempting to review a book, despite my fear of reviewing books.
“The brilliantly insightful Brené Brown draws upon extensive research and personal experience to explore the paradoxes of courage: we become strong by embracing vulnerability, we dare more greatly when we acknowledge our fear. I can’t stop thinking about this book.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“A wonderful book: urgent, essential and fun to read. I couldn’t put it down, and it continues to resonate with me.”—Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
“In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown refers to herself as both a mapmaker and a traveler. In my book, that makes her a guide. And I believe the world needs more guides like her who are showing us a wiser way to our inner world. If you’d like to set your course on being more courageous and connected, engaged and resilient, leave the GPS at home. Daring Greatly is all the navigation you’ll need.”
“Daring Greatly is an important book — a timely warning about the danger of pursuing certainty and control above all. Brené Brown offers all of us a valuable guide to the real reward of vulnerability: Greater courage.”
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About the Author
Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation–Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers: Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. Her fifth book, Dare to Lead, will go on sale in October 2018.
Her TED talk—“The Power of Vulnerability”—is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world with more than thirty-five million views. Brown lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Steve, and their children, Ellen and Charlie.
Originally published: 11 September 2012
Genre: Self-help book