Brene Brown Daring Greatly summary PDF
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Daring Greatly Summary | Brené Brown

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

Brene Brown Daring Greatly summary PDF

Life gets busy. Has Daring Greatly by Brené Brown been sitting on your reading list? Learn the key insights now.

We’re scratching the surface in this Daring Greatly summary. If you don’t already have the book, order it here or get the audiobook for free to learn the juicy details.

About Brené Brown

Brené Brown is an award-winning and renowned researcher. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. Brown is a professor at the University of Houston and holds the Huffington Foundation-Brené Brown Endowed Chair. She has studied vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy for the past two decades. Her former work includes other books related to the topic, such as I Thought It Was Just Me (2007) and The Gift of Imperfection (2010). Brown’s TED Talks have been viewed over 40 million times, and Time magazine has named her one of the world’s most influential thinkers.

Listen to the Audiobook Summary of Daring Greatly


Daring Greatly is a book by the researcher and thought leader Brené Brown. It offers a powerful new vision to provide readers with a powerful new concept. It encourages you to embrace vulnerability and imperfection greatly and live wholeheartedly. Vulnerability and shame are at the heart of Brown’s research. We have to embrace vulnerability. In doing so, we should be happier. What’s more, you should be able to forge great relationships with yourself and others. 

Unfortunately, many people believe vulnerability is a sign of weakness and failure. They see shame as a direct consequence of vulnerability. Moving past this myth makes it easier for us to try new things. This could lead to new possibilities.

Here are the ten key takeaways from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

StoryShot #1: Seek a Wholehearted Life, Filled with Courage, Engagement, and Purpose.

Wholeheartedness is a feeling of worth, even when you are essentially flawed. It means you focus your energy and attention on good qualities. Focus on what’s going right, instead of shortcomings.

In reality, many people end up with some notion regarding loving themselves. There’s a lot in pop culture, including songs, all meant to encourage people to be easier on themselves. Still, we are more predisposed to taking a hard stance on ourselves.

Daring Greatly shows that at the tenet of wholeheartedness are five ideals:

  1. All people need love and a sense of belonging.
  2. The feeling of not being worthy is central to the love we show ourselves.
  3. We build a sense of worthiness over time. How we perceive and react to our experiences informs it.
  4. We all want to live a life of courage, compassion, and connection at the core of our beings.
  5. And finally, as a wholehearted individual, use vulnerability as a catalyst.

It should help you achieve courage, compassion, and connection.

StoryShot #2: Vulnerability is Central to Meaningful Existence.

When you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, you shut yourself off from life’s best. It would be best to look at vulnerability as engaging, playing a game, and choosing to rise to the challenge. You must be open to engaging even when you know there’s the likelihood that you won’t prevail.

The willingness to engage is a measure of courage and clarity of purpose. Look at it this way. You showcase the fear and disconnection you feel by not embracing vulnerability. 

It sounds counterintuitive when you say a vulnerable individual is strong. Proclaiming people need to be vulnerable to achieve set goals sounds radical.

Understandably, you might want to avoid putting yourself in a vulnerable situation. There’s often the concern of getting hurt. But you need to look at vulnerability from a different perspective. Consider being vulnerable as a display of strength. You’ll be opening yourself up to the possibility of new relationships and experiences.

We’ve seen people admire individuals they consider vulnerable. Still, there’s very little interest in exposing themselves to vulnerability. This reflects our preference for movies and books that feature heroes. We lean towards art that shows the hero faces significant challenges. We admire said heroes when they can rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix.

StoryShot #3: Vulnerability Requires That You Recognize and Appreciate Scarcity.

We are designed not only to identify scarcity, but also to shun it. We constantly think about what we do or do not have, and how much someone else has. The effect is that we constantly compare our lives with our competitors. This is a debilitating characteristic. We end up constantly trying to pursue a media-driven vision of perfection. Admittedly, that is what surrounds us.

Notably, Daring Greatly shows that scarcity elicits the same emotion that vulnerability does — shame. By failing to stop this comparison, we further propel this shame-prone culture. This perpetuates the disengagement we feel. We become inherently unable to connect with others.

Consider wholeheartedness as an antidote to scarcity. You must believe you are good enough and worthy enough that the lack of something doesn’t define you. Inadequacy doesn’t have to elicit fear. Instead, it should be the motivation you need to propel yourself to new heights.

We often assume that only the privileged compare themselves to others. They are effectively wary of scarcity. Society doesn’t need to be so divided. Simply because there’s no class mobility doesn’t mean the average individual is immune to the pinch of scarcity.

StoryShot #4: There are Countless Harmful Myths around the Notion of Vulnerability.

You need to understand the different myths around vulnerability. This will help you achieve a positive, wholesome life. 

The first myth you must understand is that vulnerability equates to weakness. Vulnerability can elicit feelings of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Still, it doesn’t in any way equate to being weak.

The second myth is that people can somehow navigate and be immune to vulnerability. People think of these individuals as having refused to act or feel vulnerable.

The third myth is that people can somehow get past vulnerability. They can achieve this by sharing their secrets in what is tagged as “oversharing.” In hindsight, if you overshared with a stranger, you would end up being more vulnerable. Ultimately, this is the juxtaposition.

The fourth myth is that you can somehow overcome vulnerability by going at it alone. Consider this. You might choose to become a rugged individualist and never share your feelings. Still, you can never navigate being and feeling vulnerable.

These myths prevent you from seeing the opportunities that vulnerability presents. You should embrace vulnerability when you move past these myths. The result is that you end up living a more wholehearted life.

Unfortunately, many of us are ingrained in the myths about vulnerability. Very few can see past these myths and take advantage of or triumph in the face of vulnerability.

Often, we feel that being invulnerable means nothing can defeat us. We feel that those we constantly compete with are invincible. As such, it would be a counter-move on their part to accept their vulnerability.

StoryShot #5: Shame is Debilitating and Spreads Through People’s Lives.

The fact is people inherently have some good and evil inside them. We deal with some shame as we go about our daily lives. Suppose you cannot deal with this shame. If that’s the case, chances are you will consider yourself perpetually flawed. The consequence is that you never feel good enough to achieve what you seek.

Overall, there’s a connection between shame and the overwhelming feeling of being worthy. This extends to how we embrace vulnerability. You want to recognize the negative role that shame plays in your life. Once you do, you should be able to prevent yourself from feeling less worthy. Critically examine how it prevents you from feeling worthy and embracing vulnerability.

Let’s look at how most universities in the former Soviet Union used shame as part of their teaching style. This is an excellent example of how shame has a hold on society as we know it. The Soviet educational system used shame to belittle students routinely. To make it worse, they did this in front of the class. The devastated students would therefore end up dreading shame throughout their lives. This shaming mentality seen in the Soviet Union is what we see today. People fear asking, trying, or connecting because they dread shame.

StoryShot #6: Develop Shame Resistance to Lead a Happier and Fuller Life.

To start being vulnerable, ‌develop shame resistance. By doing so, you won’t have to sacrifice your values. Deal with shame in a manner that grows your self-awareness. Start by recognizing shame and its triggers. Next, reexamine the guilt you feel. Interrogate whether it is associated with a third party in your life. Understand whether it is informed by how they feel or what you think you are ultimately capable of.

You want to recognize shame and its triggers. After that, establish the essential steps to help you overcome the shame. 

Ridicule and shame need to be the least of your worries. This is essential if you are to stand a chance to navigate self-doubt. Only then can you reach a point where you are your own person.

Avoid the self-doubt associated with vulnerability. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with the same long-term. To achieve excellence, you should navigate shame resistance.

StoryShot #7: Men and Women Experience Shame Differently.

For women, shame links to how they look. This is despite attempts by therapists and behavioral experts to help cast off that fear. Women continue to compare themselves to society’s pretty, young, and thin standards.

Parenting skill is the other aspect through which women often judge their worth. The challenges presented by parenthood lead many women to feel inadequate. The overlying notion is that they need to be perfect in all areas of parenting.

On the other hand, men will feel a source of shame when they appear or display weakness. This is despite behavioral scientists explaining weakness in different genders. It is an evitable human side that better connects everyone. Men will also feel some form of shame for failure. Somehow, they are expected not to fail at their jobs, marriage, or family life.

Recently, therapists, entertainers, and others have come up with related initiatives. This is to help men and women navigate any shame they might feel. This includes gender-based shame. The idea is to encourage both women and men to more explicitly show their emotions. Overall, there appears to be an overwhelming gender-based shame. This applies to even the most basic emotions. If you are to achieve what you have set out for yourself, you should be able and willing to get past these.

StoryShot #8: We Eventually Develop Shields to Protect Us from Vulnerability. Unfortunately, These Do More Harm Than Good.

We are all conditioned to erect vulnerability shields. Their purpose is to protect us from getting hurt. Unfortunately, these do more harm than good. For instance, they end up preventing you from engaging with others. They rob you of the ability to enjoy the good times. You would have otherwise enjoyed such moments, if not for your fear of being vulnerable.  

Many of us end up subscribing to anything that ends with us being numb. This is particularly true when trying to navigate and get past vulnerability. The idea is to integrate an attitude of disinterest that helps you enjoy life at the highs. Essentially, you ignore everything else when things aren’t going great. This is essentially copping out. You are constantly seeking ways to protect yourself from the lows. You only end up celebrating your highs. This puts you at risk of missing out on the the joys you would have ultimately felt.

It seems the key to dismantling the shield would be understanding how as a person. You should understand what makes you vulnerable. Seek to understand how these situations shield you from acceptance. What’s more, consider what prevents you from finding ways out of vulnerable situations. You want to find out how best to prevent yourself from feeling weak. 

You might want to erect a shield around yourself to prevent vulnerabilities. This will also prevent you from living your life to the fullest.

StoryShot #9: You Cannot Afford Disengagement

Daring Greatly shows that disengagement will end up underlying most of the problems you experience. You will see it in your family, school, communities, businesses, and other organizations. This is especially pertinent with social media. The latter encourages pseudo-relationships, rather than genuine relationships. With the former, you can engage with the images people flash, rather than the real individuals. This robs you of actual engagement, which is not beneficial to you.

StoryShot #10: As a Leader, Create a Culture of Engagement in the Organization You Lead

As a leader, you have to embrace vulnerability. Failing to do so means your organization is incapable of being at its best. Your staff is unable to move beyond their fears to deliver their mandate. Suppose the organization has a culture of shaming, blaming, and covering up wrongs. In that case, you end up with an organization that cannot move ahead because it’s afraid to make mistakes.

Take it down to where you are a leader to yourself. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes and be okay with failure. Not accepting fear puts you in a situation where you cannot accept defeat. This then threatens the survival of your goals.

Final Summary and Review of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

The invitation in this book is quite simple. We are more significant than anxiety, fear, and shame if we want to speak, act, or show up. It probably takes on the most tragic ironies of modern life. Specifically, many people feel isolated. The same feelings they have in common, i.e., fear of failure and a sense of not being enough cause this. Daring Greatly sheds light on these dark recesses of human emotion. It reveals how these emotions can eat away at fulfillment in your life.

Daring Greatly proves to be a timely read in an age of constant pressure to conform and pretend. There’s a unique combination of solid research and kitchen table story-telling. This makes the book a delight to read through.

Brown combines her research and intelligence in this book. The result is a unique blend of warmth and ass-kicking. Daring Greatly will have you feeling motivated to take on the goals you have.


Daring Greatly is written in a manner in which you can almost feel her talking to you in her voice. There are some kick-ass lessons within the book. Brown presents them in a non-authoritarian manner. Overall, you will enjoy the read and carry some lessons to your daily life. For this reason, we rate this book 4.5/5.

Our Score

Daring Greatly Quotes

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.

Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.

Daring Greatly PDF, Free Audiobook, Info graphic and Animated Book Summary

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