Sunday, August 2, 2020

Takeaways: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

This is my second book by Brené Brown. It has only strengthened my resolve to read all of her books (not to mention listen to her podcasts, watch all of her interviews, and so on, and so on). I have so much hero worship for this woman I think I’d all but explode if I ever actually got to meet her. All of which is to say that I’m a bit biased, so fair warning.

Like the last book, my life is just a bit better because I read this. The concepts she discussed here were a bit more familiar and I was just a little bit braver in trying to practice them. Just about every time I finished reading I’d go bug my boyfriend with another vulnerability practice in which I’d let him know something else about how I was feeling, what I was afraid of, how I was struggling. It’s never fun, it’s always scary, and it’s always incredibly rewarding. I feel braver, we feel closer to each other, and things are always just a tiny bit better.

This time around she goes into specifics about the scarcity culture and the myths it leads us to buy into as a way to break down the initial barriers to practicing vulnerability. Then she looks at the primary shame triggers we face and the things the "gremlins" use to get us- in less details than in "I Thought it Was Me" but with more specifics for men. Then she looks at the "armor" we use to shield ourselves from shame that has to be taken off so that we can live in vulnerability. And finally she breaks down putting vulnerability into action at work, in school, in one's community, and finally at home in parenting and cultivating a wholehearted family.

As always, there's more of my copy that is highlighted than is not so it's all but impossible for me to pick out the core passages that resonated. Everything did. Most from my own experience but anything I haven't directly encountered myself I've seen and been effected by. But if I had to pick one core take away I think it would be this: don't hide your humanity.

The lesson she illustrates over and over again is that to be alive is to make mistakes and that you cannot ever achieve anything worthwhile without doing so. So it's less about doing the right thing and more about owning up to doing the wrong thing with grace and using that to lead by example- certainly a very different message than what I grew up believing about self improvement and what it means to be a good person. She says it's not about what you know and even less about what you say but all about what you do and therefore if you want to live wholeheartedly at home, at work, in whatever leadership role you may find yourself in the challenge is not to hide your mistakes from those who follow you but rather to purposefully draw attention to them as the lessons they are.

And she gives some good, important pointers as to how to do this in a world that still uses- in larger and larger ways I would argue, shame to keep people in line and shut up those who dare to speak out against the systems that require their silence. It's an incredibly important message for this time when a lot of us are waking up to the dangers of our own inaction and trying to stand up for what we believe in. Our world is full of individuals who have been disenfranchised by shame and the only way to change that is for each and every one of us to cultivate shame resilience and start fighting back against those who would use shame to control us. It's a daily battle and it's hard. But, as she concludes: "nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I'm standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen."


  1. This is one of my favorite books and you covered all of the important points very well. I wish more people would read this book and apply what they learn. I think we could do more "daring greatly" in this world, being more vulnerable with each other and living less and less from a belief of scarcity and lack. Great job, Bev!


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