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Brené Brown: Dare to Lead

a book recommendation by Andrea Varga


Brené Brown have been studying vulnerability, shame, empathy and courage for more than 2 decades now. She is a storyteller and a research professor.


Her TED talk on vulnerability is listed on the 25 most popular talks of all time (if you haven’t yet, check it out now here).

I’ve heard about her a couple of years back, probably seeing her interviewed by Oprah was the trigger for me. She is just awesome. She’s walking the walk and what I found most powerful in her is her ability to be truly vulnerable. In her latest book Dare to Lead all she's doing is being vulnerable. Almost every second example in the book talks about her own experience, her own journey and her own path to dare to lead.


The book itself is an easy read, I really enjoyed every line of it. It is full of great, actionable things to do and valuable insights from a lot of daring leaders. It’s rather a ‘how to’ book, actually full with so much greatness that I literally made 281 notes while reading. 🙂

Brené says that "courage is a collection of 4 skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured.

The four skill sets are:

1. Rumbling with Vulnerability

2. Living into Our Values

3. Braving Trust

4. Learning to Rise”.


She also says that "Our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability.”

There are a lot of great tools listed and detailed in the book, such as:

The Square Squad, Permission slips, New meeting minutes process, Turn&Learn, The 2 core values exercise, The daring feedback, SFDs a.k.a. Shitty first drafts, The Story Rumble, and many more.


In the ‘Rumbling with vulnerability' part there is a whole section dedicated to write down the 16 aspects of armored leadership, how can we understand the destructive power of shame, what does it do to us, how heavy the armor is that shame puts on our shoulders. She gives answer to this question: "How do we put down the armor, and how do we inspire our teams to do the same?”

There are powerful case studies here that represents so crisp and clear all details that you can’t do anything but recognize your own armor. The good news is there is just the same amount of detail on how Daring Leadership looks like in that aspect. She lists all the four elements of shame resilience. I’m not going to repeat it here (you have to read the book if you’re interested), but I’ll share what was the most powerful sentence for me:

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”


‘Living into our values’ talks about what does that mean in practice, and she says "A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important. Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs."

And I loved most dearly what she calls Step One here: “We can’t live into Values That We Can’t Name.” Period.


Part three is ‘Braving Trust’. She’s warning us: “never forget - we can’t give people what we don’t have.”


There is another tool here, the BRAVING Inventory which is "first and foremost a rumble tool— a conversation guide to use with colleagues that walks us through the conversation from a place of curiosity, learning, and ultimately trust-building.”

The BRAVING Inventory goes by:

· Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.

· Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

· Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

· Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

· Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

· Nonjudgment: I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment. We can ask each other for help without judgment.

· Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.


The last part of the book is ‘Learning to Rise’. The incredible tool she describes here is called: “The Story I’m Telling Myself Right Now is this”. It is beautifully put into motion by yet another of her own personal experience. Here you have to face into 3 things: the Reckoning, the Rumble and the Revolution. Great strategies and tools are listed here, too.

I’m not going to reveal it, read it for yourself.


I’m finishing off this post with the last paragraph of the book.

“As you think about your own path to daring leadership, remember Joseph Campbell’s wisdom: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you’re meant to serve and support, and for your culture. Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time."


You can check out the Dare to Lead Hub here: https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/

The picture of the book is also copied from the page.

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