Brené Brown (Gotham, 2012)
Danielle Oristian York, Managing Director, 21/64
In a culture and a profession where we like to fix or prevent vulnerability, Brené Brown and her book Daring Greatly reminds me of how our struggles make us who we are. I saw her infamous TED talk on vulnerability in 2011 and was hooked. Since them I’ve been following her on Twitter, reading her blog, and this year Daring Greatly has been my go-to gift.
Based on twelve years of data, social scientific research she conducted first into shame and then into qualities that distinguish lives with a strong sense of worthiness, Brown is frank and so relatable. Self-described as a classic American perfectionist who wore exhaustion as a status symbol, she shares her personal resistance to her own findings and then exquisitely and uncomfortably describes the difference between making our children happy and raising brave, engaged human beings.
Brown opens Daring Greatly with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Walking into the arena, whatever it may be – a new client/donor relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage, rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice. This is Daring Greatly – showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
This book struck a chord with me personally and professionally, making me rethink the experiences where progress was made or engagement was achieved – each of those experiences were responses to acts of courage and vulnerability by one or more people present.
My thanks to Dr. Brown for sharing her own experience in tandem with the data – inspiring me to show up and embrace my vulnerabilities. Please contact me to share your thoughts and ideas on this topic or book.
Reviewed by Danielle Oristian York