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Summary of Daring Greatly 

Short summary

We don’t want to be vulnerable because culture sees any vulnerable person as weak and open to attacks of all sorts; which is not a good thing. So, we put up a false front of strength by masking our vulnerabilities; at great cost to us. For example, we fail in leading teams or corporations assigned to us, or in providing spiritual leadership, or in raising our children to be the model citizens we dream for them to be; because we mask our vulnerabilities. In “Daring Greatly”, Dr. Brown makes a case for being proudly vulnerable and seeing it as a strength instead of a weakness. In her opinion, daring greatly will keep us from falling for the pressure of scarcity our society exerts constantly on us. We would see no need to try to keep up with our society’s expectations. We would just enjoy being our authentic selves, warts and all.

Key points


Living “wholeheartedly” or being vulnerable is the way we can rid ourselves of the shame and the fear of “not being good enough” that our culture of narcissism causes

Narcissism is the standout feature of our culture. Because of this, we lack ​empathy to be compassionate and connected people.

We are ashamed and afraid to be “ordinary.” We fear not feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate our sense of purpose.

We are ashamed because we feel “never good enough,” “never perfect enough,” “never thin enough,” “never powerful enough,” “never successful enough,” “never smart enough,” “never certain enough,” “never safe enough,” “never extraordinary enough,” “never ….”

The shame, in turn, drives our society’s culture of scarcity; because everyone is suddenly hyper-aware of lack. Everything feels restricted or lacking. We invest sizeable time calculating how much we have, want, don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs and wants. We compare our lives, our marriages, our families, and our communities to unattainable, unrealistic, media-driven visions of perfection.

Scarcity is the “never enough” problem or the “great lie,” according to Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money. In her words, “Our first waking thought of the day is 'I didn’t get enough sleep.' The next one is 'I don’t have enough time.' Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t​ get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack … this internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.”

We can deal with the shame and the culture of scarcity it causes by, not necessarily living in abundance, but by living “wholeheartedly” ― by being vulnerable and worthy; by facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and understanding that we, in our individual capacities, are more than enough.

There are four myths about vulnerability that we need to rid our minds of. They stop us from “daring greatly” or “living wholeheartedly”

Living wholeheartedly is hard because of four myths attached to vulnerability. Each of these myths can be discredited.
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Daring greatly builds up our shame-resilience, which helps us to “show up” and try again and again whenever we fail, until we “get it right”


Foreboding joy, perfectionism, and numbing are the three major ways by which we mask our vulnerabilities


“Minding the gap” ― by cultivating change and closing the disengagement divide, is a great daring strategy


We can improve work and learning outcomes by fighting off the “disengagement” of the leadership of corporations and schools; by building shame-resilience into them


“Wholehearted” parenting is us daring greatly to be the adults we want our children to be



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