“Daring Greatly,” by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly, Brown, coverBrené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, is a book about vulnerability and it’s value in leadership and in relationships.

Dr. Brown begins with a discussion about scarcity, or the feeling of never having or being enough. This feeling is attributed to the behaviors of shame, comparison, and disengagement, and therefore the counter attack is vulnerability and worthiness, being willing to face risk and exposure and knowing that I am enough (which she defines as “wholeheartedness”). But these are the very behaviors that we often avoid or refuse, and the result, then, is that “the greatest casualties of a scarcity culture are our willingness to own our vulnerabilities and our ability to engage with the world from a place of worthiness” (p. 29).

Vulnerability is described as a place of uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure, or, being open to attack or damage. The fear and misunderstanding of that risk has produced several myths – such as “vulnerability is weakness” – that inhibit our willingness to be vulnerable. Brown explains that it is necessary, then, that we develop “shame resilience,” or the ability to identify, face, and respond to what causes us shame in order to develop vulnerability. She then describes the typical shields / masks / defenses we employ to protect our vulnerability, and presents three strategies for removing those shields

Having identified and explained vulnerability, with the obstacles that inhibit it and the means to develop it, Brown addresses the importance of recognizing the value gap – the difference between what we want to do, think, or feel, and what we actually do, think, or feel. The disengagement between these two values (between talk and walk) must be overcome, both individually and culturally. She identifies the key to change, or re-engaging, as “disruptive engagement,” which involves making it safe to fail, combatting shame, and cultivating a unity and honesty that fosters vulnerability.

The essence of the book is the importance of being genuine. We must be genuine, and we must help others be genuine. In order to be genuine, we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable with people, so that they can see who we really are. This can be scary, but it’s also necessary for building trust, because it reflects authenticity. I personally believe authenticity is crucial for effective leaders, so this book may be a good resource for helping you develop along that path.

Brown, Brené (2012). Daring Greatly: How the courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Gotham Books: New York, NY.

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