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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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“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 an age of constant pressure to conform and pretend, Daring Greatly offers a compelling alternative: transform your life by being who you really are. Embrace the courage to be vulnerable. Dare to read this book!"
—Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup
"Here's the essence of this book: Vulnerability is courage in you but inadequacy in me. Brené's book, weaving together research and Texan anecdote, shows you some paths forward. And don't for a moment think this is just for women. Men carry the burden of Being Strong And Never Weak, and we pay a heavy price for it. Daring Greatly can help us all."
—Michael Bungay Stanier, author of Do More Great Work
"I deeply trust Brené Brown--her research, her intelligence, her integrity, and her personhood. So when she definitively lands on the one most important value we can cultivate for professional success, relationship health, parental joy, and courageous, passionate living...well, I sit up and take notice . . . even when that one most critical value turns out to be the risky act of being vulnerable. She dared greatly to write this book, and you will benefit greatly to read it and to put its razor-sharp wisdom into action in your own life and work."
—Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder, Omega Institute, author of Broken Open
"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."
"What I find remarkable about this book is the unique combination of solid research and kitchen table story-telling. Brené becomes such a real person in the book that you can actually hear her voice asking, "Have you dared greatly today?" The invitation in this book is clear: We must be larger than anxiety, fear, and shame if we want to speak, act, and show up. The world needs this book and Brené’s unique blend of warmth, humor and ass-kicking makes her the perfect person to inspire us to dare greatly."
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
"One of the tragic ironies of modern life is that so many people feel isolated from each other by the very feelings they have in common: including a fear of failure and a sense of not being enough. Brené Brown shines a bright light into these dark recesses of human emotion and reveals how these feelings can gnaw at fulfillment in education, at work and in the home. She shows too how they can be transformed to help us live more wholehearted lives of courage, engagement and purpose. Brené Brown writes as she speaks, with wisdom, wit, candor and a deep sense of humanity. If you're a student, teacher, parent, employer, employee or just alive and wanting to live more fully, you should read this book. I double dare you."
—Sir Ken Robinson
"A straightforward approach to revamping one's life from an expert on vulnerability."
"Will draw readers in and have them considering what steps they would dare to take if shame and fear were not present."
"Offers good insights into how people don personal armor to shield themselves from vulnerability." --The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. An award-winning teacher and speaker, she is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). Her groundbreaking work has been featured widely in the media, including a PBS special.
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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.
Brown is a vulnerability researcher. She sees vulnerability as the prerequisite to living what she calls the "Wholehearted life." The Wholehearted life is one of deep attachment to others, our environment, and our work. It's a life of being "really there," of being willing to fail. No one can avoid being actually vulnerable. We all are vulnerable every moment of our lives -- though some times more than others. But if we run from it, we lose.
Here's how she breaks it down:
1. Love and belonging is an irreducible need. We all need it.
2. Those who feel a deep sense of love and belonging... feel loveable. They believe they are worthy of being loved.
3. A strong belief in our worthiness doesn't just happen. It must be cultivated.
4. The main concern of Wholehearted men and women is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection.
3. The Wholehearted identify vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. The willingness to be vulnerable is the single most important factor shared among the Wholehearted.
It comes down to this: If we don't embrace vulnerability, we are destined to live a lonely, detached, unfulfilling life. But if we learn to embrace it in the right way, we can live a life of joy and connection. The crux is to understand that we are worthy of love. From the standpoint of this sense of worthiness, we are then able to open ourselves to one another and to the work that is before us.
A look at the table of contents gives a clearer picture of the argument of Daring Greatly:
- What It Means to Dare Greatly
- Introduction: My Adventures in the Arena
1. Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of "Never Enough"
2. Debunking the Vulnerability Myths
3. Understanding and Combatting Shame
4. The Vulnerability Armory
5. Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide
6. Disruptive Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work
7. Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be
- Final Thoughts
- Appendix -- Trust in Emergence: Grounded Theory and My Research Process
- Practicing Gratitude
Daring Greatly doesn't focus on the area of love and relationships, but it offers invaluable tools for deepening our love partnerships. For going deeper into vulnerability in the context of a romantic relationship, check out The Couple's Survival Workbook: What You Can Do To Reconnect With Your Partner and Make Your Marriage Work by Olsen and Stephens. More generally, if you're interested in Browne's concept of Wholehearted living -- the contextual framework of Daring Greatly -- check out The Gifts of Imperfection.
Daring Greatly is highly recommended as a primer for those who wish to step into the place they truly belong -- it's a place prepared for each person, but it has to be worked for. It's not altogether easy, but it's deeply relieving to understand that this essential skill is not about simply stepping out under a hail of deadly arrows. It's about leaving behind lonely and fearful self-interest, having courage that deeper connection eagerly awaits us.
When I first started reading the book, I actually felt the shame of past experiences creep in, and there was a part of me that didn't want to continue reading. I was able to recognize that feeling as shame and knew it was important for me to keep reading. I'm grateful I kept reading.