Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead is a mind-altering book that encourages readers to dare greatly every day. The emphasis is put on our vulnerability. It is often incorrectly understood as a sign of weakness when it should be perceived as a sign of strength. Feelings of love, joy, belonging, etc. are rooted in vulnerability. This riveting book promotes the concept of wholeheartedness as a way of life. It discards scarcity and replaces the common belief of “not enough” with “enough.” It condemns shame-prone cultures and gives us the tools to become shame-resilient. Finally, it shows us how to transform the way we lead in many aspects of our lives. 

Summary Notes

What It Means to Dare Greatly

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

The quest for perfection is a worldwide phenomenon. Unfortunately, regardless of how much we work to obtain it, our efforts will be in vain because humans are not perfect. Although this notion might make us appear vulnerable, we should not shy away from vulnerability. The courageous behavior we display during our lives stems from this human vulnerability. In fact, to be vulnerable means to dare greatly. It is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Daring greatly implies that we live our lives to the fullest. We aren’t afraid to go into the arena and give our best. 

We don’t spend a lifetime waiting for the perfect circumstances or the perfect timing because they don’t exist. Instead, we take the plunge and open ourselves to new opportunities, new challenges, and the possibility of failure. We do all these things because we know that we have to engage with vulnerability to improve the quality of our lives and grow.

If we change our perception of vulnerability, we can begin living our life to the fullest. The search for perfection will only make you feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled because perfection isn’t part of the true human experience.

Actions to take

Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”

“Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack.”

People throughout the world face the “never enough” problem every day. It often starts in the morning when you wake up and realize that you didn’t get enough sleep. This is followed by the realization that you don’t have enough time. In fact, when people start reflecting on their lives, they often find aspects where they experience scarcity, such as money, love, self-confidence, skills, etc. People often become tremendously obsessed with things they want but don’t have and things that others have that they don’t.

Comparison in the form of competition can sometimes be healthy and inspire advancement and improvement. However, most of the time, it is used to constantly assess everybody’s worth in different, toxic ways. People set out on a dangerous journey of never-ending comparisons looking at others' lives, careers, marriages, etc. The perfect life image presented in the media is a major source of our unhappiness and our sense of failure and scarcity. Scarcity thrives in shame-prone cultures because they magnify our sense of worthlessness. 

Shame is used as a tool. It is a mechanism to keep people in control and to prevent them from reaching their potential. Consequently, many people are scared to take risks and experience new things. By not wanting to show vulnerability, they remain silent and restrained. It is their lack of trying, their personal scarcity, that causes this. 

Of course, it should be noted that in the human experience, the opposite of “never enough” is not abundance. The real opposite of “never enough” is simply “enough,” or wholeheartedness.

Wasting energy on others and their achievements in relation to ours can be detrimental to our self-confidence and self-worth. Every person is unique, so we should accept that and focus on improving ourselves.

Actions to take

Debunking the Vulnerability Myths

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”

Vulnerability is generally seen as weakness, which is an incorrect and dangerous perception. Vulnerability isn’t positive or negative in itself—it’s what we make of it that characterizes it as one or the other. 

All emotions and feelings are rooted in vulnerability. Therefore, discarding vulnerability as an undesired trait means negating the emotional aspect of human existence. The reason we are quick to reject vulnerability is because we closely associate it with dark and unhappy emotions such as grief, shame, and disappointment. By doing so, we try to be impervious to the fact that these emotions affect our lives deeply and profoundly.

Vulnerability should also be linked to positive experiences and emotions, such as love, happiness, courage, and creativity. Moreover, by releasing art and literary works for the public to see, read, and judge, we reveal that we are vulnerable to criticism. It takes courage to be that vulnerable. It might make us deeply uncomfortable; however, performing these actions involves taking a great emotional risk. This means that vulnerability is ultimately a strength, not a weakness. 

Trust also stems from vulnerability. It grows over time, and it can be miraculously fulfilling.

Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. However, it’s one of the most wonderful character traits a person can possess. Show others that you are reliable and trustworthy and great things will happen.

Actions to take

Understanding and Combating Shame

“Daring greatly requires worthiness.”

Daring greatly means sharing something that you’ve created. In a world where most people link their self-worth to how their creations are received by the public, it is difficult to commit to wholehearted living. People often tailor their products, art, and other creations according to the expectations of the public. Otherwise, they feel they would be too vulnerable to criticism. When these creations are well-received, people often feel worthy. But if they are not well-received, people feel like failures. 

The true sense of worthiness does not stop us from being open, vulnerable, and persistent. That is what shame does to us. Shame strips us of our self-confidence, our talent, our openness, and our genuine nature. We can be shamed by anyone, for anything, and that can be devastating to our self-confidence. 

To dare greatly means to accept the fact that you will make mistakes again and again. You will be faced with criticism, blame, regression, or stagnation. But you can rise again. Pain and heartbreak are inevitable in life, but our entire life cannot be equated with worthlessness and scarcity. 

There is one thing that we can do when we are faced with shame: shame resilience. Shame resilience is a defense mechanism against feelings of worthlessness and pain. 

By following a few easy steps, you will be able to deal with the negative feelings without experiencing a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. The first step in shame resilience is to recognize shame and its triggers. The second step is to practice critical awareness. The third step is to reach out. The fourth step is to speak shame. Speaking shame is to talk about how you feel when you feel shame.

Actions to take

The Vulnerability Armory

“Daring greatly means engaging with our vulnerability.”

The pure and innocent joy we feel as children often turns into foreboding joy when we reach adulthood. Living in a world of scarcity, uncertainty, and disbelief makes us question the genuineness of joy. We often consider it too good to be true, and we expect something horrible to happen. 

The antidote for foreboding joy is gratitude. By practicing gratitude, we consciously acknowledge that we are enough. If we allow negative thoughts to prevail during times when we experience joy as adults, we will miss special moments that enrich our lives. Also, these thoughts diminish our resilience. 

People can be self-destructive in a myriad of ways. When they strive to reach perfectionism, they set themselves up for failure. As mentioned previously, perfectionism does not exist, and many people suffer because they are obsessed with reaching it. 

It isn’t easy to accept that we aren’t perfect. However, what we can do is convince ourselves that we are enough. We should be nicer and more understanding with ourselves. 

This lack of personal self-care and self-confidence can make us numb and disconnected from others. Connection can be established when people have open communication, and when they are heard and valued but not judged. When we feel that we cannot find connection, we sometimes feel that the right solution is to stop caring what other people think. Unfortunately, this attitude can make us close the door to vulnerability. This is the wrong action to take. We need to remember that emotions stem from vulnerability. 

You are able to experience joy thrillingly and lovingly. When you think about things that you are grateful for, you will be able to embrace joy in its purest form.

Actions to take

Disrupting Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work

“There is no vision without vulnerability.”

Vulnerability makes us engage. It also fosters open-mindedness, creativity, trust, innovation, and gratitude. Shame, on the other hand, results in fear. Fear hinders any potential progress, our self-actualization, courage, and joy. Fear stops us from living our lives to the fullest. Therefore, it is more important than ever to acquire skills and use strategies and techniques to build shame-resilient organizations. 

True leaders dare greatly and favor open communication and honesty. By supporting them, we play an important role in the building of a shame-resilient society. 

Sometimes shame can appear slowly and gradually in an organization. We must make an effort to recognize and tackle it.

Shame often arises from personal struggles. These struggles are often secret. By acknowledging common struggles, people can share the strategies they used to deal with them.

It is also important to use constructive feedback rather than shame in the workplace because shame does not promote progress.

Normalizing experiences that make people feel ashamed can have a positive impact on others who share these struggles. People can offer support and become more shame resilient.

Actions to take

Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be

“We rarely engage in self-righteous judgment when we feel confident about our decisions.”

Parenting isn’t an exact science. Therefore, it is easy to become uncertain in your parenting techniques or whether you are making the right choices and decisions. People are often obsessed with becoming the perfect parents. And deep down, they are terrified that they won’t ace parenthood.

Since perfection cannot be obtained, parents should focus on other goals. If their goal is wholeheartedness, they should aim to raise children who aren’t afraid of vulnerability. These children will value honesty and respect, be compassionate, and aren’t emotionally hurt by shame. Shame can deeply affect children’s relationship with themselves as well as their future self-esteem. 

Parents cannot control everything. They cannot shield their children from everything in the world. Parents who dare greatly raise children who dare greatly. These parents let their children be vulnerable, experience failure, and deal with conflict. This is how they learn to dare greatly themselves.

When children see that it is okay to fail and that there is no shame in trying again and again, they will become more self-reliant and shame-resilient.

Actions to take

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