Review of Daring Greatly

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


New York Times best-selling author Brené Brown – creator of one of the most-watched TED Talks – presents her research and insights on the power of vulnerability. She offers a mostly readable workbook that vacillates between practicable, evolved advice and incongruous New Age pabulum. Her warm, conversational style can’t conceal that she’s stretching a compelling magazine article to book length. Even so, when Brown gets certain concepts, she really gets them. Her description of the lingering, toxic power of shame is revelatory. She argues that self-regard isn’t instinctual, that every person must cultivate his or her own. To that end, emotional vulnerability equals strength, and all positive emotions – love, courage, trust – spring from it. She offers exercises – mostly derived from well-known cognitive therapies – to develop openness. Brown is especially articulate and valuable when discussing recovering from trauma and escaping a victim mentality. Her heartfelt text adds specificity to the meat of her TED Talk. Most readers would benefit from both watching her talk and reading the book. One without the other might feel lacking. getAbstract recommends Brown’s earnest – if padded – guide to escaping the trap of shame and embracing emotional openness to parents, leaders, and anyone in a relationship or dealing with shame or trauma.

About the Author

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the best-selling author of The Gift of Imperfection, I Thought It Was Me and Rising Strong. Her 2010 TEDXHouston Talk is one of the most-watched videos on



When Brown applies the powerful “lens” of vulnerability to narcissistic behavior, she finds that people often act out a “shame-based fear of being ordinary.” That fear is at the heart of the problem of narcissism, even as it offers a way of escaping it. She says it’s often hard to believe that anyone recognizes your uniqueness, and such isolation leads to the current plague of self-loathing derived from “the number of likes you get on Facebook or Instagram.” Though Brown poses this plague as mostly affecting millennials, older adults also fall prey to feeling invisible.

Brown discusses the sources and triggers of shame and explains how to blunt its pernicious power. She details the differences in how men and women experience shame. And she suggests that you answer some illuminating questions: What “expectations” define today’s social world and how does “culture” – TV, movies, fashion, Facebook, Instagram, and the like – affect your behavior? Which of your “struggles and behaviors” spring from self-protection? How do your “thoughts and emotions” connect to your vulnerability and your “sense of worthiness”?

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