Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Brene Brown’s TED talk is one of the most shared videos on the web. I put this book on my list when I first saw it. The TED talk is a great summary of the book, and explains things better than I could:
The most-used word in this book is ‘vulnerability,’ and that’s also its main point. Brown writes about how the things we do to protect ourselves from being vulnerable also keep us from taking the big risks that make life meaningful. There are also chapters on how shame and a mentality of scarcity, or “never enough,” keep us from being what she calls “wholehearted.” The last two chapters apply her ideas to the realms of leadership and parenting.
This framework for thinking about risks and relationships can change the way you see the world, or at least give you a new lens through which to see your own and others’ behaviors. As I read I kept wanting to stop and take notes or journal about incidents in my life that Brown’s ideas applied to. And questions piled up in my head, wishing Brown were there in person to answer them. For example: she discusses scarcity as a state of mind, but what about situations where it’s simply a reality?
There are some annoying tics in Brown’s prose. The number of things she says “changed her life” is a bit improbable. While it’s reassuring to hear her talk about struggling with perfectionism herself, the way she describes her near-misses with breakdowns and blowups is exaggerated, neurotic, and less funny than she wants it to be. When she talks about her success as a researcher, her packed speaking schedule, her viral TED talk, and the anxiety these blessings provoke in her, it sometimes comes off as a humblebrag. Her writing isn’t elegant, but that’s not the point. The message she communicates is a powerful one that has the potential to help people find the courage to be kinder to themselves and more open to others. That’s why it’s the best self-help type book I’ve read in a long time, probably ever.