Book notes - Daring Greatly

I knew vulnerability was kinda useful when it came to taking huge risks in life and career. However, it wasn’t until when my girlfriend recently introduced me to Brene Brown’s talks/books that I realized how important it is in everyday life.

10 guideposts to wholehearted living:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Still: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaingful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting go of being cool and “always in control”

The following sentences stuck out from the book:

  • Narcissism stems out of the fear of being ordinary. You end up defining yourself in terms of the number of likes you get on Facebook or instagram.
  • Scarcity - the never enough problem. “Never thin enough”, “Never good enough”, “Never successful enough”, “Never smart enough”, “Never safe enough”. “I didn’t get enough sleep”, “I don’t have enough time”. Source of scarcity - it thrives in cultures with high shame and cultures fractured by disengagement.
  • Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. (Older folks reminiscing about younger days. US election, Brexit are the examples.) (We compare against a perfectly edited memory that never existed.)
  • Chapter 3 discusses shame. It’s important to distinguish between shame and guilt. Shame is “I am wrong”, guilt is “I did wrong”.
  • Empathy is a major antidote to shame. Self-empathy goes a long way in fighting shame.
  • Empathy towards others helps solve other problems as well. For example, many fights between loved ones (husband-wife, daughter-mother) result from having a sense of being unheard and misunderstood - empathy can solve this. However, both sides need to have empathy in that case.
  • It’s important to cultivate shame-resilience strategies. In addition to empathy towards oneself, expressive writing also helps fight the shame. “I am not what happend to me. I am what I choose to become.”
  • We are hard on others because we are hard on ourselves. For example, if we’re comfortable with our weight, we don’t judge someone else having a bit of weight. (I used to be hard on others - However, I would give benefit of doubt to strangers, but was really hard on people close to me. I have changed this aspect after realizing this few years ago.)
  • There are 3 types vulnerability armors we often wear:
    1. Foreboding Joy - When we feel happy or joyful, we are often scared that it will not last. By doing so (or by catastrophising it), we end up not enjoying the moment. Expressing gratitude is an antidote to foreboding joy.
    2. Perfectionism - It’s important to note the perfectionism is not the same as the ability to improve. There is actually no such thing as perfect. I am enough is a good way to overcome this issue. Finishing an incomplete task is better than never finishing a perfect job.
    3. Numbing the feelings - This often results from shame, anxiety and disconnection.
  • Apart from the above 3 vulnerability armors, the following less frequent ones do affect some people:
    1. Viking or Victim
  • Strategy vs Culture is an important question in the business community. Strategy is the game plan. Culture is the way we do things. Culture is who we are.
  • Aspirational values vs Practiced values: If the practiced values consistently differ from aspirational values, the disengagement is inevitable. For example, a mother is teaching her daughter about the importance of honesty. On a shopping trip, she finds out the cashier forgot to charge her for the soda and she conviniently ignores going back to the store. This is an example of practiced value differing from aspirational values.
  • What’s the most significant barrier to creativity and innovation? It’s the fear of introducing an idea and being ridiculed, laughed at and belittled. It’s the fear of failing when trying something new.
  • From blame comes shame and then hurt, denial, anger and retaliation. Blacme is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. If blame is a pattern in your culture, shame needs to be addressed as an issue. Related to blame is the issue of cover-ups.
  • Lack of feedback is cited as one of the major problems with most organizations.
  • Wholehearted parenting is not having everything figured out and passing it down. It’s about learning and figuring things out together.
  • Wholeheartedness is like the north star. We never really arrive, but we certainly know we are headed in the right direction.
  • Perfectionism is not striving for excellence or reaching one’s best self. It’s about valuing what other people think over what you think or how you feel.
  • Normalizing helps shame resilience. Talking about and sharing experiences (i.e. normalizing) helps.
  • Fitting in vs Belonging: Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be and they want you. Fitting in is where you really want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other. Belonging is being accepted for you, fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. I get to be me if I belong. I have to be you to fit in.