Brené Brown is one of those authors I’ve meant to pick up for a while. It wasn’t until a friend sent me her TED talk on the power of vulnerability that I finally got my hands on her latest book, Daring Greatly.
About the Book:
Brené Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher. She has spent years studying and defining people’s experience with these very real, very hard-to-face emotions. As a result, she has a lot of indescribably valuable and often surprising insights and experiences to share.
The book’s full title is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. That sums up the book’s focus quite nicely. It examines the importance of vulnerability in our lives, from our families to our workplaces and beyond, and gives some strategies for beginning to explore what Brown calls “wholehearted living.”
I actually started Daring Greatly twice. The first time I just wan’t in the right headspace to benefit from Brown’s insights. The second time the timing couldn’t have been better. I devoured the book, hanging on every word and pausing frequently to take notes. The print version went onto my Amazon wish list before I’d even made it halfway through the audio. Yes…it’s that good.
One thing I particularly love about Brown is that she’s lived the very path she’s exploring in Daring Greatly. She used to be allergic to vulnerability and at the mercy of shame, and she’s done a lot of hard and ongoing work to change that. Her humor and personal anecdotes add a warmth and approachability to the book that some research-based works tend to lack.
Another thing I love is her careful attention to definitions. She clarifies exactly what she means by shame, for instance, and explores how it relates to and differs from related emotions like guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment. Big concept words like these often get used in a very abstract way, so I appreciated Brown’s efforts to nail down just what, exactly, she’s talking about.
Honestly, though, when it comes to writing a coherent review, I find myself facing two challenges. First, I always find audio harder to review than print because I can’t flip around easily. I find this particular impediment especially infuriating when I’m trying to discuss nonfiction. And second, I feel like I’m still processing what I heard. In fact, I’ll probably need to read the book another time or two at least before its insights and lessons really start sinking in. Which I will very happily do (says the reader who rarely re-reads).
So in lieu of my coherent thoughts, allow me to pepper you with good examples of what Daring Greatly and Brené Brown’s research are all about. I’ll start with a couple of my favorite quotes from early in the book (quite possibly formatted wrong, because they were transcribed while I listened to the audio):
“Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. 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.”
“Sharing appropriately with boundaries means sharing with people with whom we’ve developed relationships that can bear the weight of our story. The result of this mutually respectful vulnerability is increased connection, trust, and engagement.”
“We simply can’t learn to be more vulnerable and courageous on our own. Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.”
Next up, the TED talk that got me interested in Brown’s work. It’s long, but absolutely worth it — especially if anything I’ve said so far has piqued your interest.
Want more of what Brown has to say (or an excuse to procrastinate for another 20 minutes)? Here’s her more recent TED talk, “Listening to Shame.”
As for the audio production of Daring Greatly, I thought Karen White did an excellent job. Brené Brown’s writing voice walks the line between slyly humorous and compassionately honest, and somehow White managed to capture that in her reading.
The Verdict: Amazing
If you can’t tell, I loved this book. It came to me at the perfect time. I’m already looking into Brené Brown’s other books. For the general public, not knowing your thoughts on or interest in the book’s topic, though, I’d probably go with a rating of Excellent instead.
Does reading about shame and vulnerability appeal to you? Why or why not?