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Why You Should Read “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown

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If you don’t know who Brené Brown is, I will go ahead and say you’re welcome at the start of this. I call her my (pretend) fairy godmother and I am pretty obsessed with her and her work. Officially, Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. Informally, she is a storyteller, queen of personal development, and overall boss. And, she’s the author of the book I think everyone should read — – Daring Greatly.

I was first introduced to her book Daring Greatly by a therapist. I dove into her work when I spent five months with an amazing life coach who utilizes her program called The Daring Way™. Brené Brown is a name everyone should know as her work is universal and can help everyone. (Plus, she has a few TED talks that are wonderful that you can check out here.)

During my experience with my previously mentioned life coach, I was immersed into Brené Brown and her work and it completely changed how I think about myself, others and my internal narrative.

I talk about this experience and Brené Brown frequently, so I have friends who ask me about her work. Whenever anyone asks which book of hers to start with, I always tell them to start with the Daring Greatly. While she has several books (the full list can be found here), I think this is a great way to be introduced to her work on courage and vulnerability.

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Vulnerability and shame are at the heart of Brown’s research and are key topics covered in Daring Greatly.

These can be tricky topics to fully understand, and vulnerability can be a difficult emotion to learn to embrace and live with. Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Essentially, it is act of doing something with no guarantee of the outcome.

Applying for the new job you don’t think you’re qualified for, that’s being vulnerable.

Going on a date with a guy or gal you think you really like, that’s being vulnerable.

I know for me, I struggle with vulnerability the most in the context of romantic relationships. I always wonder if they will fail and sometimes that can stop me from even starting the relationship. The challenge with that is you will miss out on so much in life by playing small and skipping on experiences because of a possible outcome.

We all have to be vulnerable if we want to craft the live we all deserve to have. Daring Greatly goes into depth about what vulnerability is, myths about the subject, and what to do when being vulnerable doesn’t end well for you. Because we all HAVE to be vulnerable at different points in our lives, it is critical to fully understand it and to know what to do when vulnerability leads to pain.

Shame is another topic Brené Brown discusses in the form of a TED talk and also in her book.

When someone criticizes you and instead of hearing ‘that thing or action is bad’ you hear ‘you are bad’ that is shame.

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

Everyone feels shame, it is universal. Shame shows up in a lot of ways. Sometimes, for me, shame is when someone asks me why I am still single when I want so badly to be married and to be a parent. A high school girl recently told me shame is when she is new at a school and is told by a member of the school’s administration that she is not compliant with the dress code because her skirt is too short. We all feel it and it is quite painful, trust me when I say that. In Daring Greatly, Brown discusses shame and what in the world we should do when we feel shame. Again, since we all feel shame, this is a topic we can all benefit from reading about.

Skills To Thrive

During that time with my coach, I learned that when hard things happen, it is important to learn how to lean into those experiences to effectively get to the other side.

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This can’t always happen, but it is nice to have the tools to go through the journey. Personal development is a practice, and having the skills makes that practice easier and easier as tough times happen. I learned that in order to combat shame, I have to be kind to myself and take support from other people in my life. In the book you’ll not only learn about these topics, but will teach you the skills you need to take care of yourself in the hard times that we all will have to face at various points in our lives. I couldn’t recommend this book more to our GenTwenty readers.

Pick up your copy of Daring Greatly here!

Check out the book and/or TED talk and let us know what you think about Brené Brown and her work.

About the Author

Jessica Sharp

Jessica Sharp is passionate about empowering underserved and minority communities, diverse representation, and brain education. Jessica is the Founder and Chief Educator of Sharp Brain Consulting which works with public service agencies to provide education about the brain and its effect on organizational outcomes. Additionally, she is on the leadership team of Meals on Wheels in her town of Greenville, SC. She is completing a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Upon her completion, she will attend William James College to obtain a Doctorate of Psychology. Follow her on twitter at @sharpjes.