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Daring Greatly is a book by researcher and thought leader Brene Brown. It offers a powerful new vision meant to provide readers with a powerful new concept that encourages them to dare greatly, embrace vulnerability and imperfection, and live wholeheartedly.
Vulnerability and shame are at the heart of Brown’s research. The central premise is that by only being vulnerable, by risking hurt or failure, we can open ourselves to all the opportunities that life has to offer. The possibilities therein are what stand to make people happier, enable them to connect better with others and become more creative and productive.
Unfortunately, many people believe vulnerability is a sign of weakness and failure. Shame is often seen as a direct consequence of vulnerability. By moving past this myth, Brown thinks it becomes easier for individuals to try out new things that could lead to new possibilities.
Here are the 10 key takeaways from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.
StoryShot #1: Seek Out a Wholehearted Life, Filled with Courage, Engagement, and Purpose
Brown explains wholeheartedness as a feeling of worth even when you are essentially flawed. It means that you focus your energy and attention on good qualities and what’s going right instead of focusing on the shortcomings.
The reality is that many people end up with some type of notion when it comes to loving themselves. While there’s a lot in pop culture, including songs, all meant to encourage people to be a bit easier on themselves; we are more predisposed to taking a hard stance on ourselves.
At the tenet of wholeheartedness are five ideals. The first is that all people need love and a sense of belonging. The second is that the main difference between those that love themselves and those that do not is a feeling of being worthy. The third is that the sense of worthiness is built over time and is informed by how individuals perceive and react to their experiences. The fourth is that we all want to live a life of courage, compassion, and connection at the core of our beings. The fifth and final ideal is that wholehearted individuals are able to use vulnerability as a catalyst for achieving courage, compassion, and connection.
StoryShot #2: Vulnerability is Central to Meaningful Existence
The fact of the matter is that when you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, you shut yourself off from the best that life has to offer.
It would be best if you looked at vulnerability as engaging, playing a game, and choosing to rise to the challenge. You’ve got to be open to engaging even when you know there’s the likelihood that you won’t prevail.
The willingness to engage is in itself a measure of courage and clarity of purpose. When you choose to protect yourself from vulnerability, it is, in fact, a measure of the fear and disconnection you feel.
Granted, saying that an individual who is open to putting themselves in a vulnerable position is strong sounds counterintuitive.
What’s more, going all out and proclaiming that people need to be vulnerable to achieve set goals sounds radical.
Understandably, you might not want to put yourself in a vulnerable situation as there’s the concern of getting hurt. But you need to look at vulnerability from a different point of view. Specifically, consider being vulnerable as actually a display of strength as you’ll be opening yourself up to the possibility of new relationships and experiences.
Weirdly enough, while most people do not fancy exposing themselves to vulnerability, they will often admire individuals who do. That explains why most of us end up leaning towards movies and books that feature heroes that face significant challenges only to rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix.
StoryShot #3: Vulnerability Requires that You Recognize and Appreciate Scarcity
We are designed to not only identify scarcity but to shun it. We are constantly thinking about what we do or do not have and how much someone else happens to have. The effect is that we grow up with the debilitating characteristic of constantly comparing our lives and its different facets with that of those we see ourselves competing against. What’s more, we end up always trying to pursue the media-driven vision of perfection that we are surrounded with.
Notably, scarcity elicits the same emotion that vulnerability does-shame. This shame-prone culture is furthered by our inability to stop comparing what we have and who we are with those around us. This further perpetuates the disengagement we feel and our inherent inability to connect with others.
Brown presents wholeheartedness as an antidote for scarcity. You’ve got to 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.
Often, we assume that only individuals cast into societies with upward mobility would compare themselves to others and effectively be weary of lack and scarcity. Society doesn’t need to be so stratified that there’s no class mobility for even the most average individual to feel the pinch of scarcity.
StoryShot #4: There are Countless Harmful Myths around the Notion of Vulnerability
If you are going to achieve a positive, wholesome life, you need to understand the different myths around vulnerability. The first myth you need to understand is that vulnerability equates to weakness. Note that while vulnerability might elicit feelings of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure, it doesn’t in any way equate to vulnerability. The second myth is that people can somehow navigate and be immune to vulnerability. These individuals are thought of as having refused to act or feel as if they are vulnerable.
The third myth is that people can somehow go past vulnerability by sharing their secrets in what is tagged “oversharing.” In hindsight, as an individual, if you were to overshare with a stranger, for instance, you actually end up being more vulnerable, which is then juxtaposition.
The fourth myth is that you can somehow overcome vulnerability by going at it alone. What we see is that even when you become a rugged individualist and never share your feelings, you are never really able to navigate being and feeling vulnerable.
These myths prevent you from seeing the opportunities that vulnerability presents. When you move past these myths, you should be able to embrace the formidable force that is vulnerability and consequently live a more wholehearted life.
Unfortunately, so many of us are ingrained in the myths about vulnerability. Very few are able to see past these myths and take advantage of or triumph in the face of vulnerability.
Often, we see individuals who feel that being invulnerable means that they cannot be defeated. They are convinced that the individuals they seem to be in perpetual competition with are just as invincible. As such, it would be a counter on their part to accept their vulnerability.
StoryShot #5: Shame is Debilitating and Pervades People’s Lives
The fact is people inherently have some good and evil inside them. As such, we have to deal with some level of shame as we go about our daily lives. Suppose you are unable to deal with this shame. In that case, chances are you are going to think of yourself as perpetually flawed and never good enough to achieve what you seek out.
Overall, there seems to be a connection between shame, the overwhelming feeling of being worthy, and embracing 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 and embracing vulnerability. You’ve got to recognize the negative role that shame would play in your life as it pertains to preventing you from feeling worthy and embracing vulnerability.
A great example of how shame has a hold on society as we know it is how shame was used as part of the teaching style at most of the universities in the former Soviet Union. The Soviet educational system used shaming to routinely harangue and belittle their students in front of the class. The devastated students would consequently end up dreading shame throughout their lives. This shaming mentality that was seen in the Soviet Union is what we see today, where people are so afraid of asking, trying, or connecting because they dread the shame.
StoryShot #6: To Lead a Happier and Fuller Life, Develop Shame Resistance
If you are to stop being vulnerable, you’ve got to develop shame resistance. The latter means that you are able to deal without sacrificing your values. The idea is you’ve got to deal with the shame in a manner that grows your self-awareness. Start off by recognizing shame and its triggers. Next, you’ve got to understand whether the guilt you feel is associated with what third parties in your life feel or what you think you are ultimately capable of.
Overall, you want to recognize shame and its triggers and establish what essential steps are required of you to move from these points of shame to something better. Ridicule and shame need to be the least of your worries if you are to stand a chance at possibly navigating self-doubt to get to a point where you are your own person.
Understand that while you might want to probably navigate and possibly avoid the self-doubt associated with vulnerability in the short term, you’ll have to deal with the same in the long term. Concisely, if you are to achieve excellence, you’ve got to navigate shame resistance.
StoryShot #7: Men and Women Experience Shame Differently
For women, shame is linked to how they look. This is notwithstanding the attempts by therapists and behavioral experts to help cast off that fear. The effect has been that women continue to measure themselves against society’s standards of pretty, young, and thin.
Another aspect through which women will often judge their worth is their parenting skills. Too many women will end up feeling too little when presented with the challenge that is parenthood. The overlying notion is that they need to be perfect when it comes to 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 trying to explain weakness as it relates to both genders as an evitable human side that better connects everyone. Men will also feel some form of shame when it comes to failure. Somehow, it is expected that men are not meant to have failure when it comes to their jobs,
marriage, or family life.
In recent years, we have seen therapists, entertainers, and others help men and women navigate any shame they might feel, including gender-based shame. The idea is to encourage both women and men to more explicitly show their emotions. Overall, there seems to be an overwhelming gender-based shame even with 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, But These Do More Harm than Good
We are all conditioned to erect vulnerability shields that are meant 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 that you would have otherwise enjoyed had you not been fearful of vulnerability.
While trying to navigate and get past vulnerability, many of us end up subscribing to anything that ends with us being numb. The idea is to integrate an attitude of disinterest that helps you enjoy life at the highs and essentially ignore everything else when things aren’t going great. This is essentially copping out, whereby you are constantly seeking for ways to prevent yourself from the lows. You end up only celebrating your highs at the risk of possibly foreboding the joys you would have ultimately felt.
It would seem that the key to dismantling the shield would be to understand how as a person, you are vulnerable and how this shields you from accepting and possibly finding ways out of situations that would have you vulnerable and consequently looking weak.
Note that while you might want to erect a shield around yourself to guard yourself against your vulnerabilities, you often will end up also preventing yourself from living your life to the fullest.
StoryShot #9: You Cannot Afford Disengagement
Disengagement will end up underlying most of the problems you end up experiencing in your family, school, communities, businesses, and other organizations. This is especially pertinent with social media, where people seem to be okay with pseudo-relationships rather than genuine relationships. With the former, you are able to engage with the images people flash 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
When you are a leader within an organization, you’ve got to be mindful of the fact that the organization is incapable of being at its best if they are unable to embrace its vulnerability. Suppose the organization has a culture of shaming, blaming, and covering up wrongs. In that case, you end up with an organization that is unable to move ahead because it’s afraid to make mistakes.
Take it down to where you are a leader to yourself. You’ve got to allow yourself the room to make mistakes and be okay with failure. Being unaccepting of fear puts you in a situation where you cannot accept defeat, which then threatens the survival of your goals.
Final Summary and Review of Daring Greatly by Brene 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 from each other by the same feelings they have in common-fear of failure and a sense of not being enough. Daring Great\/sheds light on these dark recesses of human emotion and reveals how these emotions can gnaw at fulfillment in your life.
Daring Greatly is a timely read in the age of constant pressure to conform and pretend. What’s most remarkable about this book is that there’s a unique combination of solid research and what could best be described as kitchen table story-telling. Brown leverages her research, intelligence, integrity, and personhood to bring forth a unique blend of warmth and ass-keeping that will have you feeling motivated to take on the goals you have.
Brown has curated this book in a manner in which you can almost feel her talking to you in her own voice. While there are some kick-ass lessons within the book, these are presented in a not authoritarian manner. Overall, you are going to enjoy the read and carry some lessons to your day-to-day life. For this reason, the book rates 9/10.