Daring Greatly – Book Review

By: Brene Brown

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

A good friend of mine recommended I read one of Brene Brown’s books, and after doing some research, I quickly found myself wondering how I had never heard of Brown before or read any of her books?  I began to watch her famous TED talk, and I was moved by her message. She is a leading figure in social work and has written multiple books on leadership, parenting and much more. Daring Greatly was one of Brown’s first books, which has sold millions of copies worldwide.

“Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”
“I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.”

She begins this book with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that ends with the phrase “daring greatly” (quote included below).  These two words shape Brown’s research, and its importance is emphasized with her book title.  She takes the reader through her research, showing the importance of understanding what it means to dare greatly.  She also repeatedly emphasizes the importance of not allowing those who choose not to dare greatly influence our lives.  

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

One of the main ways we can dare greatly is by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  Throughout Brown’s book, she explains to her readers that one cannot reach their full potential without vulnerability.  Society today sees vulnerability as a weakness, not a strength, and she argues that this is entirely the opposite of how it should be viewed.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Although this book doesn’t necessarily focus on fixing all of our problems with vulnerability, she calls the reader out on many bad habits that we have all picked up from the people around us and society as a whole.  She inspires you to try and push yourself to be vulnerable using many real-life examples.

One of the pivotal obstacles we face in pursuing vulnerability comes from our fear of shame.  Overcoming this fear will allow us to make room for vulnerability. In the shame chapter, Brown also dedicates time to describing how men and women experience shame differently.  It was fascinating looking at the expectations we had for how the opposite gender experiences shame. 

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

Overall, there are so many valuable lessons in this book, and I would be doing a disservice to Brown by claiming my review covers even one-fifth of the information she researched. I think this is a great self-help book and encourages the reader to look inward to better who they are and live a more fulfilled life. 

Theodore Roosevelt’s quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the an who points out
how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds
could have done them better. The credit belongs to the
man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by
dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs,
who comes short again and again, because there is no
effort without error and shortcoming; but who does
actually strive to do deeds; who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails
while daring greatly…” 

Have you heard Brene Brown speak?  Or have you read any of her books? 

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