Synopsis: Read on Amazon
Author: Brené Brown
Should you read this book? You must! It tackles a key aspect our society seems to be lacking: wholehearted living. Dr. Brené Brown takes us through her 12 years of research and adds stories to illustrate how much this culture of scarcity we live in is hurting our schools, our workplaces, and even our homes. You’ll get a new outlook on your daily life after reading!
Just as the book, I will begin the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, the imspiration for the book’s title and the embodiement of what vulnerability, the main topic of this book is all about:
“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 neither know victory nor defeat.”
I just could not start this review any other way because, well, please read the quote again. If you don’t think that’s epic, then please move on to another review! 😉 I can almost imagine Robin Williams’ Roosevelt saying this to Ben Stiller’s character just before sunrise and all the museum’s characters going back to static form!
The book introduces the concept of vulnerability and the need for our society to embrace it in order to create meaningful connections and engagement and vanish a culture of shame and scarcity, the “never enough” type of attitude plaguing us all. Vulnerability is about “daring to show up and let ourselves be seen”. It is not a sing of weakness, nor letting it all hang out there for the world to scrutinize. People who embrace vulnerability in their lives are what the author describes as “wholehearted”. The descriptions, concepts, and other definitions throughout the book come from 12 years of Dr. Brené Brown’s own research in the field of social work.
The style of the book is half stories, half research. Dr. Brown provides plenty of examples to illustrate certain key concepts, taken from either subjects on her research or her own personal experience (and struggles) with vulnerability. She references other researchers studies on associated topics, always in a friendly, easy to read style. I found the read rather enjoyable because It doesn’t feel like you are reading a doctoral dissertation, nor like your typical self-help “quackery” (you know they are out there!)
When you are a knowledge enthusiast, like myself, you are very attracted to data, facts, research. But I also do have a heart, so it was very nice to be able to put all that data in context, that there are people everywhere struggling with the same issues.
In the end, the biggest reason for me liking the book is that I could relate to the stories (heck, I could relate to the data, too!). Even more so now that I personally feel like I urgently need a massive dose of “daring greatly”. One of the most interesting and compelling parts of the book for me was the part of vulnerability in an educational and professional context. Although I’m sure we could all use some wholehearted living in our family lives (some more than others), it is somewhat more acceptable in our world to be vulnerable in that small bubble of people we are related to and love dearly. But it’s when you leave that bubble that the whole thing becomes more taboo. Seriously, if there is a place where it is almost mandatory to strip all emotion at the door, is the workplace. The book tackled some very interesting points on how to embrace vulnerability in the workplace to foster innovation, productivity and engagement. Pretty revolutionary, yet so simple!
Overall, I highly, highly recommend. Some may find the book is not “practical” enough, in fact in some parts I wished there was a step-by-step guideline on how to change the whole world into a beautifully vulnerable existence, but I guess it’s not as black and white. It does, however; offer a couple of downloadable resources from the website, for those of you checklist and manifesto enthusiasts. And because this review is already pretty long, I’ll leave you (once again, as I did many posts ago) with the TED Talks that made Dr. Brown famous:
Paola’s mood after watching this movie: