"Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown

Review by Borodutch

"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." — Theodore Roosevelt

Only gods know how much I waited to use this quote somewhere. Fortunately, the author wrote a whole book around it so that I could quote the full text! The book's main topic is that trying something new with a risk of failure requires people to be open to vulnerability. People can't achieve great things without vulnerability (facing the risk of loss and ridicule).

  • Being vulnerable isn't a sign of weakness but a sign of being strong.
  • Vulnerability shouldn't only be associated with negative feelings (e.g., fear, shame, sadness, grief) but also with positive emotions (e.g., courage, love, joy, etc.).
  • People tend to avoid being vulnerable when they have perceived higher chances of failure — this happens often when we think we aren't "enough." We must learn that most of the time, we are enough and shouldn't overestimate the chances of bad things happening.
  • Vulnerability is uncomfortable — but so is learning. If everyone feels comfortable during the learning process, something's wrong. There must be frustration, and to feel frustration, one must be open to vulnerability.
  • When bringing up children, vulnerability must be embraced — otherwise, we risk ending up in unhealthy relationships with the kids.
  • The best way to ensure kids grow up fine is to act adequately ourselves. Children generally don't listen — they imitate. Be the person you want your kids to be when they grow up.
  • We must make sure our children always remember that they belong with us, no matter what, unconditionally. They can only be open to staying vulnerable with us if they understand that.
  • We shouldn't always follow and help out in the arena. Children must face uncertainty and know how to deal with vulnerability independently. We must teach them they are enough and can — and should — dare greatly.
  • One of the worst things a parent can do to their kids is to make them feel shame. Shame lingers with us throughout life and affects too many aspects of it.
  • Only if we accept ourselves can we fully accept our children for who they are.

After finishing this title, I can compare the experience of everyday general vulnerability to cliff jumping. Not the crazy kind — but the ones teenagers do in the American movies: 2m, 4m, 6m ones. Looking at the jump height from a side doesn't feel bad. However, facing the abyss (even though being sure that jumping is safe) produces the feeling of freezing. Choosing to jump is feeling vulnerable — even for the mere seconds in the air.

The best thing one can do is to step forward — and face the abyss.