Brené Brown’s bestselling novel Daring Greatly opens with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ speech, which we now have pinned to our office wall.
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,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Vulnerability may not be something you are used to celebrating, but Brené Brown thinks you should. You wouldn’t be far wrong if you mistook the above quotation for a description of how it feels to be an entrepreneur. In fact, Brown believes this speech is a perfect depiction of vulnerability. Trying and failing, stumbling and erring, most of us are incredibly uncomfortable with these experiences. Brown certainly was, but she believes embracing this vulnerability is of the utmost importance.
In this landmark text, Brown examines what drives our fear of vulnerability, how we stop ourselves from feeling it, what happens when we numb and finally how we engage with the emotion. She explores this with the aim of teaching herself, and the reader, how to lead more ‘wholehearted’ lives. Read our highlights below to find out more about the book.
Our Favourite Part
It has to be Chapter 4; ‘The Vulnerability Armory’ which looks at how we protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable, and the impact this behaviour has on our lives. Brown discusses our three main defence mechanisms; foreboding joy, perfectionism and numbing.
Brown explains that because we live in a world run by scarcity, we often forebode joy. When feeling joy, we make ourselves vulnerable to pain. Brown gives the example of standing over her child’s bed and feeling overwhelming love, only to be bombarded with images of something bad happening to them. As an entrepreneur, you may identify with this feeling. Perhaps your business is doing really well; you’ve just raised an incredible amount of money or have won a business award. For a moment you may feel joy, but then the negative thoughts come crashing in; what if it all goes wrong? What if we can’t deliver on our promises? What if there’s a financial crash? Foreboding joy is a dangerous game, for it means we spend our time preparing for the worst. Feeling joy is being vulnerable, and as both are ‘exquisite’ emotions, we must allow ourselves to experience them.
How to overcome this? Practice gratitude. Brown explains that when we focus on all we have, there is less room for scarcity and fear of what might go wrong. In this chapter, she also discusses how to combat perfectionism and the importance of feeling our emotions, for when we numb one emotion, when numb them all. We liked this section because we could relate to all three ‘shields’ and Brown’s practical advice is accessible and easy to follow, although carrying it out is another thing! Nevertheless, the remedies are there and with enough practice, we may be able to embrace these fears and get one step closer to living a wholehearted life.
Our Main Takeaway from the Book
Wholehearted living is within our reach. Brown coined this term to describe a group of people she encountered in her research. Everyone experiences fear, shame and scarcity and yet there are those out there embracing it. Being wholehearted is feeling worthy of love and belonging , but it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work, but it is possible and approaching life in this way means embracing vulnerability. With courage, compassion and real connections, we can achieve this. It is not only our relationships but our work, our experience of life and our mental health that is at stake, so it really is worth getting to grips with vulnerability and learning how to embrace it. This book has the power to transform the way you live, love, parent, and lead. So go on, dare greatly, and buy yourself a copy now! We promise we aren’t on commission, the book really is that good.
Not sure you want to commit yet? Check out Brown’s Ted Talk here to find out more.
 Page 2 of the preface to , Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
 Page 4 of the introduction to , Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
 Page 1 of the introduction to , Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
 Page 5 of the introduction to , Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
 Taken from the book Title, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown