Daring Greatly

By Brene Brown

Brene Brown is a social work researcher that studies shame and vulnerability. Through her research, she finds not only the behaviors, interactions, and reflexive reactions that contribute to the painful and isolating experience of shame, but also the behaviors that lead to shame resilience, bravery, and wholehearted living. Combining the experience of her research participants, her readers, and her own lived experience, Brown shares the importance of bravery. Not heroic bravery, but daily bravery that reveals imperfection, insecurity, and, most importantly, vulnerability. Brown then discusses how vulnerability can enhance effectiveness and personal relationships in a variety of settings including school, work, and family life. In all roles and at all levels of power, showing vulnerability rather than striving for relentless perfection makes leaders, employees, students, etc. more relatable, more human and more compassionate, which also contributes a host of secondary benefits like loyalty, forgiveness, and more. With straightforward and sometimes brutal honesty, Brown demonstrates and encourages the bravery required to achieve shame resilience and wholehearted living.

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown expands on her previous works, including “The Gifts of Imperfection,” to which she refers multiple times in this book. As a researcher, Brown relies heavily on research and data, all of which is fascinating because of her chosen subject areas: shame and vulnerability. Brown discusses her research process, the surprising lessons she learns from her research participants, and the merciless conclusions she finds from her research. If the stories from readers and research participants aren’t enough to sway your thinking on this subject, Brown also discloses her own struggles with vulnerability, difficulties when refusing to acknowledge the conclusions of her research, and the change that comes about when she finally accepts and implements the lessons she finds from research. Her heavy reliance on personal stories and experience humanizes the research conclusions and even makes them seem achievable. Rather than demanding vulnerability, Brown offers examples of how trust, respect, and vulnerability develop together in a variety of personal and professional contexts, showing how to test the waters of bravery without becoming overwhelmed. This book is full of clear definitions, examples, and suggestions for acknowledging your own vulnerabilities, accepting them, and sharing them with others as a way to cultivate authentic, genuine relationships and reduce the barriers that harbor isolation, loneliness, and that sense of “not good enough.”

I am a huge fan of Brene Brown and always love books that encourage self-reflection and implementing changes that push me well beyond my comfort zone. They’re usually helpful, if and when I can actually put the lessons into practice. I love this book, too, but with one exception. The first chunk of the book kind of came across as one long infomercial about what the book offered and how I, the reader, would benefit from the book. Once I finally got into the substantive parts of the book, it was as fabulous as anything else I’ve read by her. Have patience, push through, and it will be worth it in the end.

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