Book review: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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If you don’t follow me on Instagram, periodically I Instagram photos of whatever book I happen to be reading on my #lunchbreak at the day job

In doing so, I regularly get requests for book reviews, and since this is the YEAR OF BRAVE, I thought Daring Greatly by Brene Brown was a perfect book to start with.DaringGreatly_cover

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

I really liked it – but I am not sure I LOVED it.

You should still read it, but I don’t think it’s the kind of book I will want to re-read necessarily.

All of that said …. I did still REALLY like it. I took notes, and texted Kam a photo of a quote and I definitely think you should read the book.

At first, I thought it would be more self-helpy, but in fact it’s far more academic than I expected. No charts or piles of numbers or anything like that, but the whole book is built on a solid foundation of RESEARCH.

Not surprising, considering it was written by a PhD, but not necessarily what you would expect from a book about something as elusive and not-totally-measurable as vulnerability.

But, because the book is so grounded in years (and years) of careful research, you can’t help but trust what she says ….

….. and what she says is living a brave life, living wholehearedly and embracing vulnerability, is a key to happiness.

The book includes chapters on parenting and work-leadership (a la CEOs, etc), and begins with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done 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 the 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 the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly… “

Some big takeaways from the book ….

What is worth doing even if I fail?

The journey and the learning and the doing involved, even if the end result doesn’t work out. Even the tiny things I’m trying to do every week to be brave are worth doing … just to get in the habit of getting out of my comfort zone regularly. As Brown writes, “The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time” (42).

This is a reminder to do and try anyway.

Our inner critic is a gremlin.

That little voice that tells me I’m not smart enough, or talented enough or good enough will just multiply in your head …. unless you shine bright lights on it and stay aware of it. Brown offers examples and ideas for silencing that inner voice.

Often we are more critical of ourselves than anyone else is.

For example, I don’t personally think I’m a great singer …. but enough people have told me I am that I have to believe it. Or at least accept it. But if I kept my voice just to myself I would always think it was just OK instead of sharing it with others. (I hope that makes sense)

Growing is uncomfortable.

Lean into. This is something I need to remember for this fall’s Onward and Upward workshop.

“The big challenge for leaders [or bloggers or teachers, etc] is getting our heads and hearts around the fact that we need to cultivate the courage to be uncomfortable and to teach the people around us how to accept discomfort as a part of growth” (199).

My favorite quote from the book ….

“I explained that I had spent many years never trying anything that I wasn’t already good at doing, and how those choices almost made me forget what it feels like to be brave. I said, ‘Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up’”(243) – which is why if you tell me that signing up for an art journaling class is brave I BELIEVE YOU. If you tell me that initiating a conversation with another mom while waiting to pick up your kids is brave, I WILL CHEER YOU ON.

Brave - Brene Brown

Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.

Or start.

Or finish.

Bravery is different for everyone ….

In the end …. reading this book helped me remember WHY I want to dare greatly. I knew I wanted to be brave this year, but this refocused on why that is important.

I think Brene Brown is super smart and incredibly fascinating, and I’ve already added all her other books to my to-read list.

PLUS: She’ll be on 2 episodes of Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays which should be fantastic. Make sure you check those out.

More reviews from around the web:

P.S. Don’t forget to check out her downloads and badges associated with the book

Have you read Daring Greatly? What did you think?

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  • Kam March 29, 2013 at 8:48 am edit

    I’m printing out some of the downloads from Brene now, I’m going to include them in my OLW binder! I think including them in there is good as a reminder that I don’t have to be/find/act brave(ly) on my own, that help is out there.

    Reply
  • Tracie May 3, 2013 at 9:30 am edit

    This is a great overview. It really is more academic than self-helpy, but there is a lot of great information in there.

    Thanks for linking to my review.

    Reply
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