Book Review: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

It’s difficult for me to put my feelings towards this book into words because I still don’t know exactly how to feel about it… Let me start by saying that upon completion I feel let down, and here’s why: The main point that Dr. Brene Brown argues throughout the book is that being vulnerable is actually being strong, and that exposing ourselves to situations in which we might become vulnerable is the only way to dare greatly, or achieve greatness. I have no problem with this argument and in fact I actually agree with the author based on my own understanding of vulnerability and strength. What I don’t agree with, or dislike about this book in particular, is the way Brown goes about justifying or “proving” her point.

A book with half of the pages warped from water damage
Accidentally dunked half my copy in the bathtub #oops

The entire book is littered with personal stories and anecdotal evidence, conveniently supplied by the author’s own daughter and husband. I would have liked to have seen more quantified research based evidence drawn throughout the book and linked to the points Brown was making; a really good example of how this can be done right is in Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance.

Another thing I really disliked about this book was how repetitive and pointless it was at times. By pointless I mean that it was often difficult to discern what point the author was making in each section. It seemed much more like a hodgepodge of random thoughts than a well executed, well-researched book.

Another detraction was how much emphasis the author places on shame. While I get the distinction she between shame and guilt, I wasn’t convinced that shame is the be all end all for destroying vulnerability. Sometimes we need to feel shame to know we’ve done something wrong. However, at the same time I was able to reflect on a time in my life when shame might have been responsible for making me believe I wasn’t artistic.

Not to borrow this boring personal anecdote technique from the author, but I was about 6 years old and our teacher told us to draw a rainbow, and you know how colouring books have black outlines around the parts you’re supposed to colour in? Well I decided to make a colouring book for myself and drew the outline of a rainbow in black crayon first. As I was colouring in the colours, the teacher walked by and said something to the affect of “Why did you do that, rainbows don’t have black in them?” And my little artist heart was destroyed. Not until almost 20 years later did I discover that I actually do have creative talent. I love to paint, draw, colour, and design.

So in this regard I did find some value in the book. Albeit minimal, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I just don’t think these self help books are for me. I didn’t enjoy the last one I read either (The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz) so I probably won’t be reading something like this again for a while. Anyway, that’s my review. I hope it helped you in some way. I didn’t get much out of this book but that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t.

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