“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena... who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Vulnerability. Does the word make you cringe? What does it mean to you? Being seen or being exposed? Love or rejection? Strength or shame? Most people would associate vulnerability with the latter words. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. It's pathetic. It's ultimate weakness.
Not so, says self-proclaimed "shame researcher" Brené Brown. "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."
When Brené Brown decided to figure out shame she wanted to know what it was, why and when people felt it, and most of all, if it could be "fixed." Drawing on source material from thousands of interviews, letters, and stories, she began to notice a common theme among people who successfully dealt with shame, the "shame resilient." These people she dubbed the Wholehearted. They were the ones who had the courage to live openly and "dare greatly." How did they do it? By embracing, rather than rejecting, vulnerability.
This, in a nutshell, is Brené Brown's philosophy on life. Shame leads us into fear, hiding, and disengagement, but it should instead lead to empathy, through the courage of vulnerability.
Easier said than done, right?
Yet Daring Greatly is largely practical, deconstructing shame in culture, work, and relationships. The years of research Brené Brown has poured into the subject come out in relatable stories and interviews. Her chapter on men and women alone is worth the entire book. The only important component that's missing is the Biblical perspective on shame (a topic more fully explored in Ed Welch's Shame Interrupted.) For all other purposes, Daring Greatly is an excellent, much needed work on the topic of how shame governs our lives, and an inspiring call to break out of fear and live in brave vulnerability. We highly recommend it.
To get a taste of Daring Greatly, check out Brené Brown's Ted talk.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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