Life(style) Reviewer

#EmptyShelf 2016 #18: @BreneBrown: Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead (Penguin, 2012)


One of my observations from time spent with BigBible was that humour and vulnerability are the core posts that are read/shared, whilst I always know that the sermons and teaching that I hear that come from a place of vulnerability are the ones that I connect with as I hear others sharing from a place of struggle. Over the past couple of years I’ve heard the name Brené Brown (including I think via Greenbelt), so this year I decided to buy the book … so much so I ended up buying the book twice (two different covers!).

Brené has spent 12 years researching ‘shame’, of which vulnerability is a core part .. and in 2010 made herself vulnerable in giving a TED talk on ‘the power of vulnerability’ – which she describes as giving herself a ‘vulnerability hangover’ for days afterwards .. I recognise that from every job interview, speaking engagement, media spot, publication … anywhere where you put your thoughts out for public consumption. She describes vulnerability as ‘being all in’ – the need to walk into the arena, without necessarily knowing the outcome, with ‘courage and a willingness to engage’. ‘Daring greatly’ is about showing up and letting ourselves be seen.. and acknowledging ‘shame’ and feelings of ‘worthlessness’ so that we can ‘get in the ring’ and deal/engage. See her TED talk:

I shared bits and pieces with people online – and yes, I have an interest in what makes people share – I’m currently reading about memes and sharing online in order to add a new chapter to my PhD thesis ready for publication. My first share was:

Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process (my emphasis).

On the many occasions when I have sought to encourage people to be ‘authentic’ online, I have clearly added that there is a need for wisdom in what to share, rather than an unedited purging in what is a public forum, and includes taking responsibility for what we post online (I have a half-written article on anonymity online):

The fear of being vulnerable can unleash cruelty, criticism, and cynicism in all of us. Making sure we take responsibility for what we say is one way that we can check out intentions. Dare greatly and put your name on your posted comments online. If you don’t feel comfortable owning it, then don’t say it. And if you’re reading this and you have control over online sites that allow comments, then you should dare greatly and make users sign in and use real names, and hold the community responsible for creating a respectful environment.

One of the things that Beyond Chocolate encourages us to think about is our ‘gremlins’ – in what ways are our heads telling us we’re not good enough, not worth it, won’t manage it:

2016-02-22 09.59.50

Brené Brown shares her own gremlins… I recognise some of those!

2016-02-22 10.10.47

Also, looking forward to Gathering of Women Leaders next weekend, and trying to help women understand that leadership doesn’t necessarily mean a job title, shared this:

I have come to believe that a leader is anyone who holds her-or-himself accountable for finding potential and processes. The term has nothing to do with position, status, or number of direct reports.

Talking about women’s roles, this is interesting:

2016-02-22 10.20.19

Also interestingly, having originally started researching women, research into male roles provided insights into societal pressures to ‘man up’, be ‘the knight on the white horse’. For our culture, it has become de rigeur to be ‘too cool to care’, especially for young people (which goes some way to explain the number of students seeking to not care about their degrees), or as adults, we seek coolness by the titles that we gain, or, conversely, our nonconformity.

Having seen this post on Facebook earlier in the day, we were having discussions about aspirations versus reality, and I came across this on p.176

If we want to isolate the problems and develop transformation strategies, we have to hold our aspirational values up against what I call our practiced values – how we actually live, feel, behave, and think. Are we walking our talk? Answering this can get very uncomfortable.

PP 178-179 cover examples of aspirational values – in this case by parents – and how in unconscious ways the lack of role modelling means that children are told one thing, but see another, and therefore don’t learn those values. There’s lots more interesting stuff in this book, but I’ll finish with a share from the final chapter on ‘Wholehearted Parenting’, as over the last couple of years I’ve talked to a lot of parents with Raising Children in a Digital Age, and as academics, we talk about declining student resilience:


… and I’ve gained some insights into Grounded Theory! Plenty to chew on in this book from a personal, professional and academic perspective.

Buy the book.