Monday, August 5, 2019

On the Coffee Table: Brené Brown

Title: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
Author: Brené Brown

Image result for dare to lead
via Amazon

First of all, if you are new to the work of Brené Brown, you should watch her TED Talk on "The Power of Vulnerability."  Trust me.  This is important stuff:

While I first became aware of the author during my first summer graduate class three years ago, I didn't read any of her books until Dare to Lead was assigned to us for the most recent one.  In the intervening time, I've thought quite a lot about vulnerability and it truly has changed the way I think about my life, past, present and future. 

Dare to Lead explores how to "rumble with vulnerability" as a leadership approach in the workplace.  Brown defines such a rumble as
a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and, as psychologist Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.
She also encourages us to "live into our values," a concept close to the philosophy embraced by Po Bronson in What Should I Do with My Life? (see here).  In Brown's words, "Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them."  From a list of dozens of values, she encourages the reader to narrow down to two as most important.  Rather unscientifically, I settled on curiosity and love.  Most of my life decisions are based primarily on those two factors.

Brown's writing is highly engaging.  I was grateful for the opportunity to live in her words for a while and will definitely seek out more.  A few of my favorite passages (admittedly some in which she quoted others):
  • "No matter how much we love Whitesnake - and, as many of you know, I do - we weren't really born to walk alone."
  • "We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others.  We are here to be eccentric, different perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being.  As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves." - Jim Hollis
  • "The opposite of play is not work - the opposite of play is depression." - Stuart Brown
At this point of the summer, I'm still trying really hard not to think too much about work.  Even so, it's good to take some inspiration from Brown pragmatic warmth as I approach a new school year.  


  1. My wife has read this book and read bits of it to me. We've watched a bunch of her videos. I probably won't ever sit down and read the book myself at this point, but I think it's good stuff.

    1. I've been on board philosophically for a while. It's time to turn thoughts into actions.