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Book:  Daring Greatly

Author:  Brene Brown

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation: Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly : how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. "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 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 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." - Theodore Roosevelt (pg. 1)

  2. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face everyday are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection. When we spend our lives waiting until we're perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. (pg. 2)

  3. You've designed a product or written an article you want to share with a group of friends. But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you've knowingly or unknowingly attached your self-worth to how your product is received. If they love it, you're worth; if they don't, you're worthless. Once you realize that your self-worth is hitched to what you've created, it's unlikely you share it. Or, if you do, you'll strip away a layer or two of the juiciest creativity to make the revealing less risky. There's too much on the line to just put your wildest creations out there. Or, if you do share it in its most creative form and the reception doesn't meet your expectations, you're crushed. The chances of soliciting feedback, reengaging, and going back to the drawing board are slim. Shame tells you that you're not good enough and you should have known better. (pg. 63)


Other Key Ideas:
  • The most significant problems that everyone from C-level executives to the frontline folks talk to me about stem from disengagement, the lack of feedback, the fear of staying relevant amid rapid change, and the need for clarity of purpose. If we want to reignite innovation and passion, we have to humanize work. When shame becomes a management style, engagement dies. When failure is not an option we can forget about learning, creativity, and innovation. (pg. 15)

  • For many of us, our first waking thought of the day is "I didn't get enough sleep." The next one is "I don't have enough time." Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don't have. This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life. (pg. 25)

  • We are often comparing our lives, our marriages, our families, and our communities to unattainable, media-driven versions of perfection, or we're holding up our reality against our own fictional account of how great some else has it. Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare ourselves and our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed: "Remember when... ? Those were the days..." (pg. 26)

  • Trust is built in very small moments, which I call "sliding door" moments. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner. One of these moments is not that important, but if you're always choosing to turn away, then trust erodes in a relationship - very gradually, very slowly. When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing, and stop fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in. (pg. 50)

  • When our self-worth isn't on the line when we share our product, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts. With strong resilience skills, you still want folks to like, respect, and admire what you've created, but your self-worth is on the table. It will be disappointing if your friends and colleagues don't share your enthusiasm, but this effort is about what you do, not who you are. Regardless of the outcome, you've already dared greatly, and that's aligned with your values and who you want to be. (pg. 64)

  • Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. It's the belief that if we do things perfectly and we look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of judgement. Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy we spend trying. (pg. 128)

  • Sometimes people ask me how I decide which of my "vulnerable" stories to share. I share a lot of myself, even though I haven't necessarily cultivated a trusting relationship. I don't tell stories or share vulnerabilities with the public until I've worked through them with the people I love. I don't share stories that are fresh wounds. Sharing yourself to teach or move a process forward can be healthy and effective, but disclosing information as a way to work through your personal stuff is inappropriate and unethical. Being vulnerable with a larger audience is only a good idea if the healing is tied to the sharing, not to the expectations I might have for the response I get. (pg. 161)

  • A leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and process. The term leader has nothing to do with position, status, or number of direct reports. (pg. 185)

  • 85 percent of men and women interviewed could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming, it changed how they thought of themselves as learners. What makes this even more haunting is that approximately half of those recollections were creativity scars. The participants could point to a specific incident where they were told they weren't good writers, artists, musicians, dancers, or something creative. This happens in schools all the time. (pg. 189)

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