Going Beyond a Book's Summary: Why Being Vulnerable Will Make You Braver.
An article based on the book 'Dare to Lead' written by Brené Brown.
Published in 2018, Dare to Lead investigates the ways you can identify the inner courage within you to lead an exceptional team. Based on her research, and life experiences, Brown looks at the methods you can use to gain control over your emotions, give a kick to your fear of failure and become a daring and great leader.
This book can help you if:
- You want to become a great leader for yourself and your life.
- You want to become an inspiring leader for others.
- You want to feel more courageous
- You want to create new life experiences for yourself.
What is being a leader according to Brown?
“Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” — Brené Brown
The research Brown made with her team led them to find a very clear finding: courage is based on a group of 4 skills that you can learn, observe, and measure. These 4 skills created the 4 main parts of her book.
1. PART 1: Rumbling with Vulnerability
“Our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability.” — Brené Brown
To create daring leaders that take our organizations to the next level, we need as individuals to establish safe environments that allow teams and leaders to be vulnerable.
According to Brown, the notion of vulnerability is always connected to the notion of courage and bravery. The moment you are being vulnerable, by openly expressing your emotions, for instance, you are being brave. The moment you are in the middle of this arena surrounded by your fears, doubts, and confronting emotions, you are being brave.
By exposing yourself to this vulnerability, you are not only being courageous, but you also raise your self-awareness about what you feel and how you feel. Even though sometimes people or situations push you into this arena of vulnerability, you are the only one to consciously choose if you want to be in it or not.
You also have the choice to share your vulnerability or not, at any time. You are the one to decide if you want to expose yourself or not.
Life isn’t always easy. You might cross paths with people who will try to manipulate or use you for various reasons. Life is tough, and so can you. When you raise that awareness, you stop letting your life happening to you, by taking the driver’s seat and being in control. Being vulnerable might lead to some confronting conversations, choices, or realizations.
This awareness moment reminded me of a quote that I read somewhere saying that: “you can make the easy choices (avoiding, blaming, hiding your head in the sand) and live a difficult life, or you can decide to make difficult choices (talking about your vulnerabilities, detaching yourself from toxic people, or taking responsibility) and live a freer, and happier life.”
By being in this arena of vulnerability, by feeling ashamed, guilty, or other confronting emotions, you also have the choice to use it as an opportunity to transform those emotions into gratitude and generosity. In a future article, I will talk about the 6 Myths of Vulnerability that Brené Brown explores.
In a nutshell: Courage ALWAYS goes with Vulnerability.
2. PART 2: Living into Your Core Values
“Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.” — Brené Brown
When looking at organizations, the notion of value comes back a lot. Many organizations intentionally create their values or are led by external actors defining their values. But what about individuals, like you, me, or your neighbor? How do we define our own values?
The second part of the book guides you to find your core values. Our childhood, parents, school, friends, work, and life’s experiences give us directly or not more values that we tend to make them our own.
By looking at the Dare to Lead list of values and doing an exercise to re-define them (which you will also find in a future article) you will be able to let go of the values that you don’t serve you anymore, and decide for yourself which ones you want to keep. Usually, an individual possesses two core values (or maybe three).
By redefining your core values, you will be able to navigate through the toughest times that you might encounter. It will also help you to understand better your boundaries and stand up for yourself more easily without needing to be hard towards others.
3. PART 3: Braving Trust
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and it’s practicing your values, not just professing them.” — Brené Brown
How can you connect with someone if the trust is not established? Without trust, we have no connection, and if we can’t connect, the vulnerability has no place. This third part of the book helps you to detect and understand better the 7 behaviors that can create trust, which is summarized with the acronym BRAVING.
- Boundaries: We respect each other’s boundaries and when those boundaries are unclear, we can ask the other person what is okay or not.
- Reliability: You take action on what you say. You not only say what you’ll do, but you also do it. You “walk the talk”.
- Accountability: You take responsibility for your own mistakes. You also have the power to apologize and can make amends.
- Vault: You keep experiences or information to yourself if you know that they are not yours to share.
- Non-judgment: You decide to go for courage instead of comfort.
- Generosity: You can use the most generous interpretation of the intentions, actions, and words of others.
4. PART 4: Learning to Rise
“When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending. And when we don’t own our stories of failure, setbacks, and hurt — they own us.” — Brené Brown
To complete effective leadership training, Brown created a method called Learning to Rise that helps you to know how to become more resilient. Re-framing and flexibility are the key aspects in this context.
The Learning to Rise Method:
- The Reckoning: This step helps you to know when you are emotionally absorbed and become curious about it.
- The Rumble: The goal is to acknowledge the stories that are based on fears, doubts, and insecurities that you tell yourself to make sense of difficult and confronting situations.
- The Revolution: This last step is about taking off the protective shield, becoming vulnerable, living into your values, braving trust with an open heart, and learning how to rise so you regain the power of authorship of your own life stories and experiences.
My view on the book
Reading this book helped me to become aware of my fears about being vulnerable. The first part about vulnerability highly impacted me as it shed light on some moments of my life that I am still digesting today.
Having been raised by a narcissist father until 9, and then seeing him occasionally on weekends and vacations until I was 14 or 15, I spent 7 years of my childhood being emotionally and psychologically manipulated. Even though I was a kid and I intended to spend time with my father, I let myself being pushed in this vulnerable arena, which to show me how worthless, weak, and stupid I was if I wouldn’t follow what my father wanted for my life.
Because of this event, I started creating this habit of hiding my emotions, keeping them to myself, and avoiding talking about them as much as possible. It created strong negative self-talk and an auto-destruction mindset that I’m still dealing with today.
While reading this book, I realized that people might push me in my vulnerable arena one way or another and for different reasons, but now that I am a young adult, I can consciously make the choice to show my vulnerable side when I want it. Sharing this short glimpse of my life — and not the most beautiful one — is also in a way of me choosing to show my vulnerability.
Many of us experience life’s situations that we’d rather forget. But I also believe that we have a conscious choice to make to move forward and take control of our lives. You are the one making it happen, you are the one creating your life, and you are the one deciding how to react to x situations and what you can learn from those experiences.
This book gave me essential information to learn how to be a leader for myself but also with others. I believe that our societies need more leaders who are ready to show their vulnerable sides and reveal who they truly are instead of hiding behind a perfect storefront. Be brave, dare to live your life the way you want to. You only have one. Enjoy it.