Book Summary: Daring Greatly

Theodore Roosevelt's statement from Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly opens the book:

"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 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 neither know victory nor defeat."

The entire book is about what it's like to be in the ring and to take risks.

Follow us for the next 12 minutes as we look at why daring greatly is in limited supply nowadays and what we can do to encourage it in ourselves and those we lead.

The Problem: A Culture of Scarcity

An AB testing being held being one female and the other, representing comparison which shows a culture of scarcity.

Why aren't there more "fighters in the ring?"

Brown believes it's because we live in a scarcity society with three different elements. Here are some considerations to consider when determining whether or not you work in a company with a scarcity culture.

1. Shame

Is the fear of ridicule being used to control and keep people in line? Is performance, productivity, or conformity linked to the self-worth of those who work with you? Do you frequently witness individuals blaming one another for their problems? Is it appropriate to call someone names?

2. Comparison

There is a distinction between good and harmful comparisons, as Brown reminds us. Is there a lot of comparing and rating going on at your place of business? Are people assessed only based on a set of restricted criteria rather than for their unique contributions to the team?

3. Disengagement

Is it possible that individuals are frightened to attempt new things and take risks? Is it simpler for you and others at meetings to be silent rather than offer tales, experiences, or ideas? Do you ever feel like no one is listening or paying attention when you share something?

If you responded yes to any or all of those questions, you are most certainly a part of a scarcity culture.

Why are there so many of these organizations? It's all about how we perceive and interpret vulnerability in our culture.

Myths of Vulnerability

Daring Greatly necessitates vulnerability, which involves exposing oneself to danger, uncertainty, and emotional exposure.

There are four illusions about vulnerability that have caused us to regard it as something to be avoided at all costs as a society.

Myth 1: Vulnerability Is Weakness

A group of friends being there for each other as their friend is experiencing difficulty and requiring assistance.

When we don't comprehend anything, we should speak out. To push ourselves to the limits of our capacity to see what we are actually made of, even if we know we will fail. When we are having difficulty with anything, we should discuss it so that we might receive assistance.

Sadly, in our culture, those characteristics are regarded as flaws. You must achieve your objectives, know the answers, and have a good attitude at all times.

On the other hand, only the strong can confess when they're having trouble and drive themselves to the limits of their ability, putting themselves at risk of continual failure.

Brown knows this from her study because when individuals talk about what it feels like to be vulnerable, they talk about things that look a lot like this.

  • Requesting assistance
  • Having to say no
  • Establishing my own company.
  • Assisting my cancer-stricken wife with her preparations
  • "I love you" comes first.
  • Trying something different
  • Following three miscarriages, being able to conceive.
  • Waiting for the results of the biopsy.
  • When I'm out of shape, I like to exercise in public.

Myth #2: I Don't Do Vulnerability

Brown begins this section with a great Madeleine L'Engle quote:

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up, we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable."

It's easy to convince oneself that vulnerability is something only other people do. That is intended for youngsters.

However, in life, there is no way to escape it. We don't do vulnerability; vulnerability does us, as Brown puts it.

Myth #3: Vulnerability Is Putting It All Out There

Two best friends talking and expressing their thought and feelings with each other.

Vulnerability does not imply oversharing, discussing your feelings with everyone you encounter or publishing dramatic comments on Facebook.

Rather, it's about expressing your thoughts and feelings with the individuals you've chosen to be in your close circle. Vulnerability should only be shared with individuals you can rely on.

Brown emphasizes that trust is earned "one marble at a time," referring to a concept she refers to as "The Marble Jar."

Essentially, trust is created over time by modest and regular deposits, such as remembering someone's birthday, maintaining secrets when requested, recognizing when someone is upset, and asking them why.

Myth #4: We Go at It Alone

We live in a society that values individual accomplishment. Vulnerability, on the other hand, isn't something you want to accomplish on your own.

You'll need someone to assist you in picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. As you become acclimated to expressing yourself in various ways, you'll need individuals who will allow you to try on different ways of being.

Vulnerability is a collaborative effort.

Understanding and Combating Shame

A group of best friends eliminating the shame and communicating with each other.

What is it that prevents us from being more vulnerable?

Shame. It's the excruciatingly painful sensation of believing that we are imperfect and so unworthy of love and belonging.

It's the quiet assassin of aspirations and ambitions, as it's the most significant deterrent to creativity and invention.

Let's assume you've written an essay, built a product, or composed music that you'd like to share with your friends or coworkers.

When your self-worth is connected to the success of your endeavor, one of two things happens:

  • You are unwilling to share it once you know (consciously or unconsciously) that your self-worth is connected to how people respond. Alternatively, smooth the idea's rough edges to make it less likely to be rejected.
  • You completely share it, and you are heartbroken when the response isn't what you had hoped for. Your guilt informs you that sharing your thoughts was a terrible decision and that "next time we'll know better than to reveal our thoughts."

There seem to be three things we really have to understand about shame, according to Brown.

  • It's something we all have. It's one of the most fundamental human feelings, and the only ones who don't have it cannot connect with others.
  • We're all frightened to bring up the subject of shame.
  • It has more power over our lives the less we discuss it.

What can we do to deal with shame when it manifests itself in our daily lives?

  • Acknowledge and comprehend what makes you feel ashamed. Shame is accompanied by various physical manifestations that only you will be able to detect. Examine what happened just before the emotion when it occurs. What happened, or what messages did you get that made you feel ashamed?
  • Critical awareness is a skill that you should learn. Examine the events or messages that prompted it for accuracy. Are the goals you've set for yourself realistic and attainable?
  • Get in touch with people. Tell your experience to the folks in your trusted group.
  • Speak about shame. When you're talking to that individual, don't simply talk about the incident; additionally, talk about how it makes you feel. Don't be scared to request what you require at the time.

The Vulnerability Armory

We used to find a variety of strategies to shield ourselves from being vulnerable when we were youngsters from being disappointed and wounded.

We learned how to utilize our ideas, emotions, conduct as weapons, and how to blend in or disappear.

As adults, we must let go of that baggage to reclaim our identity. The only way to "be in the arena" is to do so.

Here are some of the vulnerability shields we may have employed in the past and how we may finally let them go by replacing them with Daring Greatly.

Foreboding Joy

It's safer to feel nothing at all dwell in our bad thoughts than to be joyful and risk being judged. A lot of happiness means a lot of misery.

Gratitude for the happy times and enjoyable occurrences in our lives is the antidote to gloomy joy.


We employ perfectionism as a cover, convincing ourselves that we won't be ashamed if we get things right. Obviously, we never do that.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, the cure is compassion for yourself and a feeling of purpose.


A bottle of wine before bed, Netflixing all of your free time, and anything else you do to get away from reality on a routine basis.

Getting in touch with your feelings and learning how to deal with tough emotions is the cure. It's the only method to cope with stress consistently.

Daring Greatly for Leaders

A female leader feeling inspired as it is raining lightbulbs and showing that she wants to learn.

So, how does any of this relate to you being a better leader?

Loads and loads.

Brown has interviewed hundreds of individuals from many walks of life as part of her studies. When she asked herself (and the individuals she was interviewing) what they would like to say to their leaders about vulnerability, they came up with the following, which Brown refers to as the Daring Greatly Manifesto:

CEOs and instructors, please accept my heartfelt greetings. Addressed to the principals and management. Politicians, community leaders, and decision-makers should be aware of the following:

  • We want to be present, to learn, and to be inspired.
  • Connection, curiosity, and engagement are built into our brains.
  • We yearn for meaning and a strong drive to create and contribute.
  • We want to take chances, accept our insecurities, and be brave.
  • We disconnect and look away from the things that the world needs from us: our talent, our insights, and our enthusiasm, when learning and working are demeaned - when you don't see us and don't support our daring anymore, or when you just see what we create or how we perform.
  • We just ask that you interact with us, that you make an appearance with us, and that you grow from us.

When you don't have open and honest talks with us about our strengths and areas for improvement, we begin to doubt our contributions and your dedication.

Above everything else, we ask that you start showing up, be brave, and let yourself be seen. With us, dare to be great.

So, what's the remedy if that's what your audience expects from you?

"Sitting on the same side of the table," as Brown puts it. It's essentially a collection of guidelines that advise you how to be present when giving feedback to one of the persons under your supervision.

Here's how to tell if you're ready to provide feedback that encourages people to Dare Greatly:

  • You're prepared to sit next to them instead of in front of them;
  • You're prepared to put the problem in front of both of you instead of between you.
  • You're willing to listen, ask questions, and confess that you don't fully comprehend the situation;
  • Instead of focusing on their flaws, you should praise what they do well.
  • You'll want to figure out how to capitalize on their skills to discover and execute the best solution;
  • Without criticizing or humiliating them, find a way to make them responsible.
  • You're willing to take responsibility for your share of the situation;
  • You may really express your gratitude for their efforts;
  • You may discuss how addressing the problems will lead to their growth and opportunities;
  • You can demonstrate the vulnerability you want them to have.

You are equipped to Dare Greatly if you are willing to undertake all of that as a leader.

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