LIVING THE LAB LIFE
A BLOG FOR ASCLS REGION V
Book Title & Author: Daring Greatly: How the courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.
Book Review Summary:
Daring Greatly is a # 1 New York Times bestselling book based on research done on vulnerability. The author Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She starts the book off with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech “The man in the arena” which captures the essence of the book:
'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 at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly’
Vulnerability is a part of our everyday life. It does not only involve unpleasant experiences that may lead to embarrassment, disappointment and fear but it is at the core of joy, empathy and a myriad of emotions that bring purpose to life. Brené’s challenge to us is to remained engaged in life by showing who we really are to the world – embracing the negative as well jumping in and enjoying the positive joyful parts of life. This is the true way to be courageous. The concept that being vulnerable is courageous is not easy to swallow. After all, weakness is a part of the definition of vulnerability and we would rather link courage to strength and perfection. The reality is that we are all weak in some ways and it is tempting to let that lack of perfection or that feeling of being “never enough” paralyze us and stop us from entering the arena of life. Life is filled with uncertainties and there is no way of knowing whether or not every action you take will pay off positively. This inability to be vulnerable and to step out into the world as we are is dangerous and will leave us with regret for many missed opportunities. Daring Greatly is a book that will make you reexamine the reasons behind every action you take whether it be at home or in the workplace.
The author is a good story teller. The book is filled with personal examples of situations where she experienced vulnerability. Some of which I surprisingly relate to. For example she writes of having a feeling of impending doom when things in her life are going well instead of embracing the joy of the moment – something that I relate to very well. This book would be great for discussion. Even though it may seem tough to apply it to the workplace (as opposed to one’s personal life) it can be valuable to discuss how we can all be more vulnerable in the workplace. One way to apply it to the work place is to think of what the vision of your work place is. For example if you want the workplace to be a strong team /family environment you can specify what kind of actions you should be taking every day with employees and coworkers to support that vision. Now compare what you should be doing with what you actually are doing. The discrepancy may have something to do with an unwillingness to be vulnerable. For example, do people on a strong team not know the names of other people on the team? If you are a manager of a lab and you don’t know the name of one of the phlebotomists that works in the lab and have no interest in learning or meeting him or her, you probably don’t have a strong team. How are employees at your facility evaluated? What would a strong team do? What do you actually do?
We often think that people in leadership positions should not have meaningful relationships with employees under them because this would blur the boundaries of their professional relationship but does this really have to be the case? How much do we know about our employees or coworkers? How much interest do we take in their lives?
I thought of times that I appreciated a manager or coworker’s willingness to be vulnerable:
I gave it a 3 out of 5 because although I think it was a good book but I was left with a sense of ‘well what do I do now?’ Leaders may feel the same way after reading this book since it does not paint a road map to provide guidance as to how to be vulnerable. However, I do think that this book can facilitate great discussion and thus it is worth the read.