[Daring Greatly]: A Review

Hello bookish friends!

I hope you’re having a great week. We had a good old fashioned rainy day today I spent most of the afternoon reading. It was perfect!

I continue to play catch up today as I review Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, one of my most anticipated reads this year. I raved about her book The Gifts of Imperfection earlier this year. And this definitely lived up to my expectations! As this isn’t a novel, my review will be a bit different than my usual as well.

This book is life-changing. Everyone should read it.

A little background on my experience with Brene Brown’s work:

  • I first discovered Brené Brown while I was an undergrad and working as a mentor to younger students. Her work on vulnerability changed the way I worked and studied and fell in love.
  • Now, years later as a young mother, I’ve rediscovered her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and wholehearted living. First, I listened to several podcasts including Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations with Brené, and I knew I had to read her books.
  • So I’ve started reading her books. And she’s changed my life again. I’ve experienced more anxiety and fear after the birth of my second child last year. Brené Brown has helped me move forward and focus on wholehearted living rather than shame.


Daring Greatly by Brené Brown showcases how vulnerability and courage can change every aspect of our lives. Goodreads summarizes, “Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts. In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

“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 at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while
daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

The title for this books comes from this inspiring quote from Theodore Roosevelt about those “in the arena” of daily life. I love this quote, and I love the way Brené uses it to frame her research. She helps us all see that we are not alone. That our struggles and insecurities are not unique to ourselves. In fact, it is our struggles, our fears–our shame even–that can connect us in the deepest ways to those around us. That makes me feel empowered and confident.

One of the most unique aspects of Brené research is how she is still struggling to practice what she preaches. That makes her feel so real, so human. (Perhaps that’s why I feel like I can call her Brené in this review although I’ve never met her or communicated directly with her.) She feels like a friend who gets it. I really connect with her because she talks about her personal struggle to practice vulnerability and shame resilience. She is working at this too like all of us.

Brené’s research is intriguing and applicable. Again, I found myself agreeing with basically everything in this book. It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite element because they all spoke to me in some way. I was constantly telling my husband about the latest chapter or idea. I find Brené’s research on shame and it’s connection to guilt, joy, and wholehearted living so fascinating. The vulnerability research was also powerful in a whole new way. I also really loved the way she applied her study to parenting. I want to highlight a few favorite inspirations from the book:

  • The difference between shame and guilt. This was a revolutionary concept to me and it makes so much sense! Shame is harmful and depressing. Guilt can be productive and cause change. Shame is thinking “I am a mistake” while guilt says ” I made a mistake.”
  • The importance of learning shame resilience rather than shame resistance. We cannot resist shame. That will only make it worse. We can learn strategies to combat shame and keep it in perspective. Shame thrives on secrets, lack of discussion, and fear. When we talk about shame, we shrink it. I love that.
  • Everyone experiences vulnerability, and we all try to hide it too. I was so impressed by the vulnerability sections of this book and the shields we use to hide it. I was surprised to see myself in several of those. I appreciated the small ways we can have courage and cultivate rather than hide from vulnerability.
  • We have only a few people who we have a vulnerability relationship with. Find out who those people are and strengthen that relationship. If you are vulnerable with everyone, you won’t be wholehearted. I love the practical tip to say “vulnerable, vulnerable, vulnerable” over and over until you are able to talk to one of these people. Acknowledging vulnerability strengthens your courage and overcomes your shame and fear. Vulnerability must be practiced wisely.
  • The best parents embrace vulnerability and show their kids how to do the same. This struck home for me. Wow, to teach your kids about vulnerability, you must lead by example. Admit to mistakes. Get out of my comfort zone. Do hard things. And show my kids courage. Parenting is the great vulnerability experience in life and this takes it a step further. The best part about this section is how vulnerable Brené is. She shares personal stories about raising her children, making her own mistakes, and learning how to lead with courage rather than shame.

I read this book over a period of several months so I definitely plan on rereading some favorite parts in future. Consider reading only the most applicable parts at one time. It was hard to digest and synthesize the whole book because it took me a few months to read it. In future, I will be reading shorter sections that are more specific to my current worries and needs.

This is a book I am so glad I own because I will be returning to it again and again.

green stargreen stargreen stargreen stargreen star

What do you think about vulnerability, shame and courage?
And have you read Brené Brown yet?

10 thoughts on “[Daring Greatly]: A Review

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  4. Loved your write-up, reminded me some of the little things I picked up from it and need to reflect on again. Vulnerability is crazy, I liked how she pointed out that often times vulnerability is related to being weak which is never the case. It takes strength to be vulnerable

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. I enjoyed this book too. She has so many good things to say. I blogged her most recent book.It is called Braving the Wilderness. Blog post below, in case you are interested.

    Brene Brown was “discovered” by Oprah Winfrey and went on to develop a loyal readership. This is the third Brown book that I have read. The author, a social worker and social science researcher, educates by effectively using both of these skill sets. Brene Brown shares her own perceptions, struggles and life story to best make her points. She backs this with academic research that she has conducted .
    This is not the best written book but its message is powerful, especially in our current political climate of division, silos and the tendency to have strong “confirmation bias.” Brene Brown urges readers to calmly and bravely stand up for their beliefs while being open to having dialogues with those who have opposing views. A short book for such a tall order. It is worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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