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on June 25, 2013
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.
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on September 11, 2012
"Vulnerability is not weakness," writes Brown. In fact, "Vulnerability is the the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences." Without vulnerability, there can be no love, there can be no achievement, there can be no greatness. Unfortunately, instead of developing skills of vulnerability, we too frequently develop armoring techniques. We spend all our energy avoiding getting hurt, avoiding shame. But there's no surer way to not feel loved, not feel connected, not be fulfilled, than to practice the avoidance of vulnerability.

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.
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on October 23, 2017
I enjoyed the concepts delivered in this book. The writing style made for easy reading and the “storytelling” weaved through the book kept it interesting while calling out relatable experiences. This was my first Brene’ book, and I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.
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on October 16, 2015
This book opens your eyes to what is missing. Daring greatly not being afraid and being vulnerable. Putting yourself out there in a world that is not very open to outward thinking.
For me this book was so much more then a great read. I struggle with a lot of what Brene Brown talks about. The fear or ridicule, putting up my walls and even retaliating when I feel uncomfortable. The things she discusses in this book are real life issues and ones we need to pay way more attention too.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Moms dads, sisters brothers, co workers friends, bosses, neighbors, people I don't know and haven't met. For hells sakes even the guy sitting next to me on the plane.
Read it, it will hit a chord I guarantee and it will really make you ponder, think and reflect on your life before your life now and what you want your life to be.
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on October 26, 2015
In this book, I have found so many answers to the questions I have been asking. I've also find answers to the questions I haven't been asking, but maybe I should have them. I find this to be some of the most important literature on the planet, in a transformative and spiritual understanding. Brene Brown has been challenging the notion that we cannot let down our guard, that we don't need any other people in the world, and that We can rely on ourselves. Her attention to detail, excellent stories that are revelations, and unique extensive well-conducted qualitative research have really opened my mind about the possibilities and new connections that can be formed in my relationships now and in the future. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding a better way than what they have been doing.
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on June 3, 2015
So well written and thought out that I felt compelled to share copies of the book with many friends and family. Brene Brown is a strong researcher, but more importantly for me, she was able to translate the research into practical examples that helped me see where I want to make changes in my own way of seeing the world. I was reading Daring Greatly while in Amsterdam and found her explanation of vulnerability so real to me as I studied Vincent van Gogh's paintings and the story of his life. For the first time I understood what it means to be vulnerable in a positive way....when no one likes a painting that took over a year to create (The Potato Eaters) what are your choices? How does that shape you as person. Though there is some repetition from her other books, I found Daring Greatly to be a book packed with helpful concepts, examples and a way to move forward with more purpose and clarity in this world.
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on October 22, 2017
Teachers and parents especially. The parenting section was awesome. I gave it 4 stars because it was a great book, but i would have liked more examples. She nails it though. Very good. Recommend it for sure.
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on May 2, 2017
This is an amazing look into what each of us knows about ourselves, but most of the time will not admit openly, or silently in our heads. So often people are not willing to admit to so many of the subjects that she covers in this book. But once you do, you will discover a whole new you. I look forward to more discoveries about myself with the help of Daring Greatly.
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on March 29, 2016
Brene' Brown is now one of my favorite super heroes! I have already read the book twice, have it on audible and kindle, and will be referring to it often. Brene' models her own theories by telling stories on herself. She is self-deprecating, yet brilliant. As a pastor, and a person who has lived long enough to have significant personal experience with vulnerability, her message is not only true for me personally, but also consistent with biblical principles. While written very clearly so anyone can understand, this book is written by a professor using the language of social work, not as a self-help, or inspirational book. That being said, anyone who reads it will be inspired and will be helped!
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on January 30, 2016
Thank you, Brene, for your research and for sharing your findings with the world. This book is important and this book is for everyone.

She interviewed people from a different angle than our culture is used to. This book is full of ideas I'd never thought of before, but are so relatable and so right. Her main approach is that success and perfection are not our goal- our goal is to live whole-heartedly. To dare greatly. To feel worthiness and human connection. To lean into the hard, understanding that it happens. And it's okay that hard happens. Because if we can be open to discomfort, that's how we'll be open to joy too.

It's impossible to summarize the brilliance of this book in a review. Go read it.
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