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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Daring Greatly Book Cover
Book (with additional video)
Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW
Recommended by: Dr. Tara Tubbesing, Director of Psychology, Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center, Department of Mental Health
Additional Video
Title: The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown
Date: January 3, 2011

1) What is your suggestion about?

The title, “Daring Greatly,” comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech often referred to as “The Man in the Arena.” The metaphor of the arena from the speech contextualizes the example of the person who tries again and again despite failures.

In Dr. Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she draws on 20 years of research to encourage people to embrace discomfort and vulnerability so that they can “dare greatly.” By embracing the discomfort, individuals can overcome shaming and blaming tendencies that threaten to erode human connection and engagement in all areas of life. In organizations and in leadership, embracing discomfort, having difficult conversations, and taking the risk to be vulnerable indicate a cultural shift. The cultural shift may be uncomfortable, but is essential for change. Daring greatly, human connection, and embracing vulnerability are at the heart of innovation.

2) Why did you choose it?

Approximately six years ago, I was introduced to Dr. Brene Brown’s TED talk, “The power of vulnerability.” I was immediately enamored by her authenticity. She is a self-proclaimed “researcher and storyteller.” She has spent years researching shame and vulnerability, has written several New York Times Best Sellers, has given one of the top five most viewed TED talks, and has taught many students at the University of Houston.

The beginning of the book Daring Greatly immediately grabbed my attention with a passage of Theodore Roosevelt’s speech. Dr. Brown’s emphasis on leaders engaging and truly connecting with others has helped to shape my own leadership philosophy. By being “all in” with my team members, each individual feels the ability to take smart risks for not only their own personal improvement, but also for the betterment of the team and organization as a whole.

As a result of these risks, sometimes great success occurs. When people feel comfortable to take smart risks by sharing innovative ideas, admitting when they are wrong, and taking responsibility for their actions because they know they are supported, cared about, and encouraged, the entire organization benefits.

3) What else do you want to tell us about it?

Dr. Brown discusses how leaders can improve and build shame-resilient organizations. These include engaging in supportive and honest conversations that provide constructive feedback.

Quality feedback is crucial for transformative change, but without connection, empathy, and vulnerability, feedback can trigger negative dynamics from both the person giving it and the person receiving it.

With a culture of learning and trust, it is easier to engage in open and honest feedback. As Dr. Brown recommends, sitting next to a person, as opposed to across the table, is a simple and practical tip that can quickly change the dynamic of a conversation when giving feedback.

4) What is a key takeaway for leaders driving improvement in how we deliver for the citizens of Missouri?

A key component of improvement in any system is innovation. Innovation requires courage, vulnerability, and the willingness to dare greatly. When leaders model this behavior and develop a trusting environment that promotes respect and vulnerability, staff members can also dare greatly: creativity and productivity will flow. Honest feedback and trust in the workplace decreases blaming and shaming behaviors that impair productivity and client-based outcomes. We are most able to develop creative and innovative ways to serve the citizens of Missouri when we are all in the arena together, daring greatly.

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  • Sheila Abey, Department of Health and Senior Services
  • July 2, 2018 2:31 pm
  • Something that stood out in the video is when Brene was defining a sense of worthiness, as people who come from a strong sense of belonging, have a strong sense of worth. In the field, we often see people who do not have a strong sense of worthiness and are filled with fear and shame. If we focus on connecting with them using our whole hearts then I feel that our work with them would be much more effective.
  • Susan Leonard, Department of Mental Health
  • July 2, 2018 2:33 pm
  • Watched the video - very insightful! We are afraid to be authentic, to put our true selves out there for fear of being rejected or shamed. Loved what Dr. Brown said about raising children. "Our job is to say, you know what, you're imperfect and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. That's our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we'll end the problem I think that we see today."
  • Connie Cooper, Department of Corrections
  • July 3, 2018 1:14 pm
  • I have 5 more books that a friend in large business recommended that I thought would be good also. 13 things Mentally Strong people Don't Do by Amy Morin How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnigie Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman and How Will you measure your life by James Allenworth and Karen Dillon and Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
  • Gail Phillips, Department of Corrections
  • July 3, 2018 1:25 pm
  • Interesting correlation between shame and connections. I found it very informative.
  • kim e haynie, Department of Corrections
  • July 5, 2018 5:42 am
  • What a powerful video. best so far. We should also inspire the offenders with this message. I'm going to watch it whenever I get the chance again! thank you!