By Brene Brown
Brene Brown is a researcher who focuses on shame and vulnerability. Interestingly enough, by studying these emotions and ways of being in the world, Brown’s research points to joy, connection, and compassion because shame and vulnerability bring out all the things that get in the way of authentic connection with others. In this book, Brown discusses the intersection of vulnerability and imperfection, illuminating the variety of outcomes (ranging from terrible to terrific) with examples from her own life. She dares to share first, inspiring self-reflection and many ever-so-humble thoughts of “if she can do it, so can I!” After providing a groundwork and describing the negative and positive outcomes of vulnerability and shame, Brown then goes on to identify 10 steps for recognizing and realizing the gifts of imperfection, giving readers the ability to prove that “if she can do it, so can I!”
“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown is one of many acclaimed books she has published addressing vulnerability, shame, and building authentic connection with others through those emotions, not in spite of them. Her descriptions seem too good to be true, but her personal examples show that authenticity can result from painful, isolating, or humiliating circumstances. By demonstrating the interdependence of vulnerability and courage in sharing her own experiences when the two collide, Brown implicitly invites readers to implement the same practices in their own lives (in addition to her explicit directives and 10 guideposts).
This book appeals to me for so many reasons, the least of which being I am a total sucker for things like this (have I mentioned yet how much I love inspirational quotes? This book is basically one long inspirational quote). I also loved it because of the self-reflection piece, which made it somewhat challenging. First, it took me almost two years to finish this book because every time I picked it up to read it, I kept getting lost in self-reflection, then I felt frustrated at how slowly I progressed through the book, then I would set it aside until I felt the urge to start it again. I probably started reading this book three times before I finished it. The other reason it was hard was because the self-reflection required me to look at my own imperfections and how they impact my relationship with myself and others. ‘Nuff said. My advice to those who might consider reading this book (which should be everyone): read it, then review it. Brown writes in the style of: “this is what I’m going to tell you, now I’ll tell you, and I’ll finish by telling you what I’ve told you,” but it still made so much more sense to me when I looked back at the overarching progression of the book once I had finished it. Then again, perhaps one of my imperfections is that things tend to make a lot more sense in hindsight.