‘Daring Greatly’: Invitation to Re-Evaluation
By Astrid Ambroziak
“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 ... .” – Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” speech, Paris, 1910.
Teddy Roosevelt spoke those words over a century ago. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, not only brings back to us the “Man in the Arena,” as Roosevelt’s transforming speech became known, but also invites us to her kitchen table, to break us open while tasting some “whole-hearted” goodies with her incredible book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.”
Brené Brown, a “thought leader” whose two TED Talks – “The Power of Vulnerability” and “Listening to Shame” went viral, invites us to get to the root of why we are addicted to control and certainty.
Why we are afraid to fail and, thus, don’t get “into the arena?” Why we shame ourselves and others, and most of all, find vulnerability to be a weakness. Why we isolate ourselves, point fingers at others, become critical of everyone, including ourselves, instead of having the courage to find resilience to show up, to be seen and to be connected.
Through her 12 years of ground-breaking research, her humor and her transparency, Brown invites all of us, men and women, to re-examine how we live, how we work, how we “friend” and parent.
And this re-examination is timelier then ever: with technology affecting our lives in every venue. With gender relations still being built on old perceptions, instead of with awareness and humanity. With our mental health deteriorating, as well as with an urgent need for compelling global conversation on race.
Brené Brown breaks “Daring Greatly” (a 2012 No. 1 New York Times bestseller now in paperback) into:
• Introduction – sharing her adventures in the arena.
• Scarcity. How we must find a sense of worthiness in ourselves.
• Vulnerability myths. When asked to speak to various Fortune 500 companies, Brown was asked to talk about Innovation, Creativity and Change, yet to avoid talking about Vulnerability and Shame. It was like seeing a beautiful woman and appreciating her only for her clothes and make-up. Brown shows that Vulnerability is the birthplace of Innovation, Creativity and Change.
• Understanding and Combating Shame. First seeing ourselves, being seen and developing “shame resilience.” Not puffing out or shrinking back, but practicing our authenticity.
• Vulnerability Armors. One of them is perfectionism, which is a “self-destructive and addictive belief system. We think that if we are perfect, we can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” The other one is foreboding joy.
• Mind the Gap, Cultivate Change, and Bringing on Engagement vs. Being Disengaged. Brown shows us that by asking specific questions, we can learn a lot about an organization, a group, a company, a family and ourselves. “Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort and how does it look?”
• “Disruptive engagement.” How we must change dehumanizing education and our work. “To reignite creativity, innovation and learning, leaders must ‘re-humanize’ education and work. This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame.”
• Wholehearted Parenting. Brown shows us with her research and her own life that it isn’t telling our children what kind of adults to be, but truly demonstrating with our own lives what humanity and adulthood are all about. Don’t just tell me, show me.
Further, “Daring Greatly” focuses on some final thoughts and Brown explains “grounded theory” and her research process.
Gandhi told us to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Teddy Roosevelt invited us to the arena to be that change. And Brené Brown, with her Grounded Theory and her own vulnerability, shows us how there is no other way to be fully alive, unless we are “in the arena.”
“We all want to dare greatly,” Brown writes. “If you give us a glimpse into that possibility, we’ll hold on to it as a vision.”
With “Daring Greatly,” if we choose to read the book with our hearts, we will get that glimpse. So let’s get into the arena with joy, passion, empathy, kindness and appreciation. Because, as Teddy Roosevelt also said in that same speech: “The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer.”
(“Daring Greatly” author Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, has a new book coming out Aug. 25: “Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.” For more information, visit http://brenebrown.com.)
Astrid Ambroziak, Editor of PT’s ParkNews.biz, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.