TITLE: Daring Greatly
How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
AUTHOR: Brené Brown
THE AUTHOR’S PERSPECTIVE:
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and a New York Times bestselling author who has spent over 2 decades studying the complex feelings of shame and vulnerability that most people rarely feel comfortable discussing. Brown’s down-to-earth attitude is refreshing and inspiring in all of her works, which include 5 books, a podcast, TED talks, a Netflix special, and her Dare to Lead program. In this book, Daring Greatly, she gives readers an authentic, honest perspective on why we feel shame, how it can negatively affect our lives, and how we can work on embracing vulnerability rather than allowing it to silence us. Combining years of professional research along with humorous personal anecdotes, Daring Greatly dares to expose common fears (such as not being “good enough”) and then offers a potential solution for readers who dare to challenge themselves to view difficult emotions in a new light.
- Vulnerability is not weakness, but a sign of strength. Feeling vulnerable is how we are able to empathize with others, form deeper connections, and truly experience the richness of what life has to offer.
- You must accept that you are worthy of being loved and listened to the way you are at this moment; you don’t need to strive to be “good enough” before engaging with others and the world around you.
- Be the person you want your children to be by living out your values rather than simply telling your children about them. Aim to cultivate a household where shame, dishonesty, and fear don’t reside.
OUR FAVORITE CHAPTERS: WE’VE INCLUDED ALL OF THEM
Chapter 1: Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”
This introductory chapter tackles the topic of narcissism in the digital age. Although we can be quick to call people “narcissistic” or “self-absorbed,” Brown says that many behaviors we may associate with being selfish can often be tied to feelings of insecurity. Social media has exacerbated this problem by causing people to feel as if their own lives are somehow not “good enough” when they compare themselves to others.
Chapter 2: Debunking the Vulnerability Myths
There are a few common myths about being vulnerable, which are addressed in this chapter. People who believe that vulnerability is a weakness, or something they can simply choose not to partake in, are gently corrected with notes of wisdom. “Unfortunately, there is no ‘get out of vulnerability free’ card,” Brown writes. “We can’t opt out of the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure that’s woven through our daily experiences. Life is vulnerable.” There is no way to escape feelings of vulnerability if you want to be able to live life to the fullest.
Chapter 3: Understanding and Combating Shame
In this chapter, Brown dives into the 12 different categories of shame, which range from insecurities about appearances to memories of past traumas, and the power that can come from talking about these vulnerable topics. Readers will also learn about how to change a “fixed mindset,” how to recognize triggers, and the differences in how men and women feel shame.
Chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armory
Nearly everyone can relate to feeling as if they need to wear armor or a mask of sorts to “protect” themselves from feelings of shame or insecurity. Brown empathizes with the fear of showing vulnerability, but she explains that never removing the mask or armor can become suffocating. Additionally, she points out a frequent paradox crops up in interpersonal relationships when people are reluctant to let their guards down. “Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you,” Brown observes.
Chapter 5: Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide
The phrase “mind the gap” is utilized to describe what Brown calls the “disengagement divide” in our culture. People don’t only disengage when they feel ashamed or fearful; they can also become disengaged if they feel as if the people they look up to (pastors, teachers, politicians, etc.) begin to neglect their responsibilities or social contracts. To combat people from feeling disconnected from their peers, communities, and families, we need to “pay attention to the space between where we are and where we want to be.”
Chapter 6: Disruptive Engagement
Brown points out different aspects in our workplaces and schools that seem designed to belittle and shame those who don’t meet certain expectations. She talks about ways our society should restructure these crucial places in our lives by starting with the way leaders interact and view participants. For example, students usually learn to keep their mouths shut in the classroom or risk being ridiculed or criticized by their teachers or peers. Brown points out that this fear is what keeps students from daring to be creative and express themselves, which consequently leads to disengagement.
Chapter 7: Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be
To raise children in our culture of “never enough,” parents must be dedicated to teaching them how to celebrate their imperfections, display empathy and compassion for others, have courage to speak their minds, and understand that they have inherent value as human beings. Adults are urged to “put down the yardsticks of school admissions, grades, sports, trophies, and accomplishments,” and instead show love and understanding for the child exactly as they are. This doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t let their children experience challenges or protect them from all struggles, however. Brown writes, “Raising children to be hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail.”
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- Ways to move on from feeling ashamed to understanding the causes of your shame.
- How practicing vulnerability can improve your professional and personal relationships.
- How to recognize the hidden ways fear can affect us in order to live a fuller, more engaging life.
- How the best leaders show strength by being authentic and vulnerable with their audiences.
WHERE YOU CAN BUY THE BOOK:
WHERE ELSE TO ENGAGE:
- Unlocking Us Podcast: Dr. Marc Brackett and Brené on “Permission to Feel”
- TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability
- Netflix: The Call to Courage (Trailer)
- Facebook: Brené Brown
- Twitter: Brené Brown
What emotional obstacles it addresses: Daring Greatly is a comprehensive overview of the different ways people display feelings of shame in a variety of settings, from the classroom to the workplace to the home. Anyone who struggles with feelings of not being “good enough,” is afraid to speak their mind, or has difficulty coping with past trauma can find hope and actionable advice for freeing themselves from their underlying fear of vulnerability.
What positive emotions does it create: As a person reads through this book, they’ll feel inspired by Brown’s down-to-earth, empathetic responses to common anxieties that we all feel in some aspect of our lives. Readers will feel comforted knowing that they’re not alone, and that they’re capable of changing the way they perceive the concept of vulnerability. If someone takes Brown’s advice to heart and makes the changes suggested in this book, they’ll feel empowered to become more open to what life has to offer.
What will happen if we don’t make the change that could result from reading this book? Making a change in your thought process is easier said than done. If someone has struggled for numerous years with being vulnerable, change won’t necessarily take place immediately. It takes time and patience with yourself to begin to view vulnerability as a strength, a positive asset, and a necessity rather than something to be hidden and belittled. However, if a reader doesn’t believe that Brown’s advice is something they need to work on in their own lives, they might remain too anxious to speak up when they have something insightful to offer or continue to live with unnecessary feelings of shame.
What feature of the book club offering do we think is the most valuable? The ability to read and discuss the main takeaways of Brown’s work with other people who want to overcome their own internalized impressions of feeling shame and vulnerability.
What other feature of the book club offering do we think is the most valuable? The opportunity to practice Brown’s advice in real-time by sharing your own vulnerabilities within an encouraging community of like-minded people.
What point of difference about this book club offering is the most compelling? Participating in this book club includes far more than simply reading the book and having a few conversations with other readers. This unique, in-depth book club will help you access all of Brown’s most valuable insights throughout her decades of research in just a few weeks with videos, articles, and podcast suggestions to accompany each chapter.
What other point of difference about this book club offering is the most compelling? If you have any questions about Brown’s work or insights, this book club offers members the special opportunity to do a live Q&A session with the author herself!
Case study: If you could teleport into the future, looking back on your experience, how would you define the most successful experience from participating in this book club? After participating in this book club, the reader feels more empathetic towards those around them. Instead of assuming that they will be laughed at or dismissed when they speak their mind, the reader will instead feel emboldened to be honest in an authentic, kind way. The reader will no longer be held back by the fear of not being “enough” for those around them, and instead focus on being kinder to themselves when they notice that they’re falling victim to the “vulnerability myths.” Readers will look back at the person they were before joining this book club and wonder why they ever felt so fearful of shame and vulnerability in the first place.