I’m not big on hyperbole.
So it’s really something when I tell you that you need to buy and read a book because I truly believe it can change your life.
I feel that strongly about Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. If you aren’t familar with Dr.Brown and her work, she’s a researcher on shame and vulnerability at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
She’s been doing this for a while now and publishing astoundingly good articles and books for many many years, but in 2010 her TEDXHouston talk on vulnerability caught the attention of the internet, after which TED asked her to come to their main stage and do another talk about her research and work. That’s below if you haven’t seen it, and it is worth every ticking second of the 18 minutes it’ll take you to watch it. Do that, and we’ll come back to talk about the book.
Pretty incredible, yes?
So it was with great anticipation that I waited for Dr. Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly, to be released. And it was worth the wait.
I’m not a book reviewer, so I’m not going to try and give you a thorough and academic review of this thing and its contents. Here’s what you need to know.
Every single solitary one of us experiences the feeling that we aren’t something enough. Not smart enough, good enough, rich enough, accomplished enough, thin enough, strong enough. That we are at some level unworthy, or unlovable. Some of us can face that down with conviction and intentionally stand up to it. Others of us live in powerful denial that we feel that way, and we hide, or rage, or do something else to mask our vulnerability and conceal our shame.
Not only does this book take an incredibly human view of all of those things, but Dr. Brown makes it so plain that this touches all of us. Because it’s fundamental to the human condition, and research shows it. There is something incredibly powerful in knowing that you are not alone in your struggles with vulnerability.
I’m doing a talk at TEDxPeachtree in November about living with — and transcending — depression and anxiety.
My goal is to chip away at the terrible stigmas around discussing mental illness openly and publicly, to help change the picture of depression and let the world know that people living with mental illness look just like you and me. That it’s an incredibly pervasive human struggle, and something that should never carry with it the burden of shame. Because if we can connect with each other, we never have to face these insidious diseases alone.
It’s like Daring Greatly was written for me, right when I needed it. Right when I needed one last shot of courage to finish writing this speech and be brave enough to walk out on a very public stage and give it. Because being vulnerable to and with others can change our relationships, the way we see ourselves, and the world.
I’d really like to give a copy of this book to everyone I know. There are insights in here that will absolutely drop your jaw, and others that will feel so frighteningly familiar that you’ll hold your breath and look over your shoulder to see who’s been reading your diary. If you are one of the people who is blessed to be very shame-resilient, it will help you see and understand why not everyone is, but how you can help them to be.
As for what this is doing on my business blog?
Vulnerability needs to be part of our professional lives and our businesses. Every day. In fact, I truly believe that if we embraced that, we could absolutely and fundamentally improve the impact and value of our work, forever.
In fact, this is what I think “human” businesses are all about. Humanizing the individuals in our companies by allowing them to be people with fears, triumphs, insecurities, talents, and all of the messy and non-systemic things that come with all of that. We’re fine having a “leadership retreat” in a hotel ballroom but we’re not so great at simply letting people be vulnerable at work. We have to change that if we’re ever going to change, fundamentally, the way business looks and works.
So pick up a copy of Daring Greatly. No one gave me this book, asked me to write this post, or anything of the sort. I am writing this because I loved this book and I will be recommending it to people for always. If for whatever reason you can’t afford a copy for yourself, email me. I’ll buy it for you. If you buy it, read it, and don’t think it’s one of the most important books you’ve ever read, write me a note and tell me and I’ll buy you another book of your choice.
It’s that important to me that these messages and concepts get out into the world, into our families, into our offices and our community organizations. In return, you have to promise me that you’ll share the book with at least one other person.
I hope you’ll watch Dr. Brown’s talk, read the book, and chew slowly and carefully on the ideas around shame and vulnerability in our lives. This is important stuff. It’s permanently changed my perspective, and it was important to me to share it with you too.
If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts. And continue to Dare Greatly.