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8 Takeaways From Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

I am a full-time content creator. I write about entertainment, personal finance, & every facet of health.

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Being vulnerable in this world is one of the hardest things to do because you feel so exposed when you put yourself out there: Sharing your creative projects online could lead to criticism or alienation from your peer group.

Honing your singing skills could lead to a lot of pushback from whoever might be listening, especially if you have to practice a lot more!

In short, being in the arena, as Brene Brown calls it, is an act of enormous courage, because you’re putting some part of yourself out there for the entire planet to see, and some people might tear you apart emotionally as a result.

Usually, at least a few people do, which is why it’s so important to remain vigilant when it comes to believing in yourself and following your chosen path if you know it’s the right one in the depths of your soul, no matter what anyone says.

#1 VULNERABILITY IS AN ENORMOUS STRENGTH

Too often, vulnerability is seen as a weakness: Pain has long been stigmatized in our society, so someone who cries because they are hurt, or even composes a song to share their feelings about their love life, is often viewed as being overly fragile as a result.

The truth is that vulnerability probably plays the most important role in our lives, and can change everything for better or for worse.

That being said, you will never know if you don’t at least try. Just think about all of the most transformative moments in your life:

  • Proposing
  • Going to therapy
  • Saying "I love you"
  • Moving to a new city



None of these would be possible without vulnerability.

#2: DON’T TAKE FEEDBACK FROM ANYONE UNLESS THEY ARE IN THE ARENA THEMSELVES

Brene Brown drives home a powerful message on the very first page of her book: If someone is not in the arena of life themselves, fighting for what they believe in, falling, going through the pain of being judged, and persevering, they haven't earned the right to give you advice.

She cites a passage from a famous speech by Theodore Roosevelt, which was delivered at the Sorbonne in the beautiful city of Paris, France on April 23, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose body is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

—Theodore Roosevelt

This is certainly an impactful message which resonated with a lot of people: More than one million copies of this book have been sold, after all.

At the end of the day, the credit, the triumphs of life, belong to those who are the most vulnerable, whatever that looks like.

Without vulnerability, there is no room for growth.

#3 FAILURE IS A STEPPING STONE TO SUCCESS

If you take to nearly any successful person, they often have stories of immense hardship: The vast majority of famous musicians, actors, and writers spent a decade scraping by financially or, at the worst, sleeping on the streets, or in their car.

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It’s not easy to make a dream come true: It takes 10,000 hours of obsessive dedication on average, and that’s a good five to ten years for most people.

Sacrifice is involved: Some folks may face alienation from their family, their peer group, or both, yet they carry on, even if it means having to end relationships that they once found fulfilling.

However, they persevered, they learned what wasn’t working, and they discovered how far they could actually push themselves in order to make their dreams a reality: They usually understand hardship, but many of them would not be where they are today if they hadn’t dug deep, spent hours upon hours honing their craft, and sacrificed a lot financially during that process.

#4 IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCEPT LOVE FULLY WITHOUT BEING VULNERABLE

There were some very touching chapters in Daring Greatly when it came to nurturing relationships as a parent.

There were also extremely meaningful passages illustrating the importance vulnerability plays when navigating a romantic partnership.

Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness.

—Brene Brown

The truth is that we cannot truly love another being if we are not immensely vulnerable.

#5 NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO BE PERFECT, AND THAT’S OKAY

In America, we have hustle culture, and what could be considered toxic productivity, sometimes to the point of burnout!

On one hand, this leads to a great deal of innovation for our nation, but, on the other, it can lead to a lot of stressed, grumpy, insecure people who feel like they can never measure up projecting their problems onto innocent bystanders, so what is there to do?

We must overcome any shame we feel and embrace imperfection: After all, it is unobtainable, no matter how much excellence we achieve in our personal and professional lives, and that’s okay—Give yourself a break if your house isn’t as nice as your neighbors' or you don’t bake every batch of cookies by hand for your children’s school events, or you don’t always wear the best outfit to work.

You’re enough, no matter what, simply because you are human, and you don’t have to feel unworthy just because other people are experiencing different circumstances than you are: Everyone has problems; they just look different.

#6 IT’S OKAY TO BE ORDINARY

In America, we have Hollywood. In Hollywood, we have a lot of beautiful blondes with seemingly perfect bodies that share all of their (apparently) flawless lives and looks on Instagram.

We see magazine covers of women who are extensively airbrushed, and then sometimes find ourselves spiraling into a pit of shame that seems infinite when we find one blemish on our skin.

We’re constantly fed success stories about people who made it big, implying that fame and fortune will make a person content.

As anyone who has actually garnered a lot of money and recognition will tell you, these are not things that will automatically make you happy: They come with strings attached and many other responsibilities and burdens—People tend to see you for what you do rather than who you are, and some may ruthlessly and relentlessly attempt to take advantage of you simply because you have more resources than they do.

It can even be dangerous to be famous: Many celebrities have been faced with stalkers who find their way onto their elaborate properties somehow, and these individuals are often armed.

Nearly every famous person will tell you that spending time with friends and family members who love you for who you truly are—flaws and all—and engaging in a healthy lifestyle are the best paths to actual happiness.

#7 VULNERABILITY SOUNDS LIKE TRUTH AND FEELS LIKE COURAGE

Being vulnerable isn’t easy: Sharing how you actually feel with a friend or family member—or even your significant other—is incredibly uncomfortable.

That being said, it is a necessary step if you want to experience growth in any area of your life and heal through any issues you may have in your relationships.

Part of being vulnerable is telling the truth when it comes to your own flaws, no matter how painful that may be. The other side of the coin is that it’s essential to have the courage to tell your loved one when they have hurt you, or how you really feel about having children, or not having children, even if you may not be on the same page: It’s never easy, but it is necessary to live an authentic and fulfilling life.

#8 YOU ARE WORTHY SOLELY BECAUSE YOU ARE HUMAN

Have you ever felt like you are only going to be lovable when you find a partner, become a millionaire, or buy that big house in a nearby neighborhood you’ve been eyeing for months?

That’s perfectly natural, especially since we’re constantly fed ads that mess with our emotions, manipulating us into thinking that we will never attract the opposite sex unless we buy their perfumes containing a slew of toxic chemicals, get a 4.0 GPA, or rake in at least six figures per year.

What makes this constant assessing and comparing so self-defeating is that we are often comparing our lives, our marriages, our families, and our communities to unattainable, media-driven visions of perfection, or we’re holding up our reality against our own fictional account of how great someone else has it. Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare ourselves and our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.

—Brene Brown

With all of this potentially damaging external feedback, it can be tough to feel as though you are good enough, especially if you haven’t met your special someone yet even though you’re getting older, or you are struggling financially, or you are having trouble achieving your academic goals.

Additionally, it can be extremely difficult to heal from heartbreak when there’s enormous societal pressure to be in a relationship: It can be all too easy to recall the memories of the time you spent with your ex as close to perfect while forgetting all of the times they deeply hurt you. After all, you probably broke up for a good reason, as painful as the separation may have been, and it’s important not to idealize and sugarcoat everything simply because you might be lonely or you may be missing them: You deserve to be happy and you deserve to be treated well.

The right person will likely enter your life at the right time, and there’s nothing wrong with being single while you’re pursuing your career, building your own business, or healing from a past relationship. In fact, it takes incredible strength to leave a toxic partnership, so that exit is actually something to celebrate because it’s better to be on your own than it is to be in an abusive situation.

Whatever the case may be, it’s of paramount importance to remember that your external circumstances—no matter how dire they might be!—do not define you: You are inherently worthy simply because you are human.

FINAL SUMMARY AND REVIEW

Daring Greatly is a very important book because it illustrates the impact vulnerability has on your life, even though it has long been viewed as a weakness in society: Without vulnerability, people wouldn’t get married, voice their deepest opinions, or repair relationships that may have suffered as a result of their mistakes.

  1. Vulnerability is the deepest form of honesty there is, and involves a great deal of risk.
  2. American culture can lead many to feel as though we never measure up, but it’s important not to define yourself by your external circumstances, no matter how dire they may be: You’re enough simply because you are human.
  3. It takes a lot to be vulnerable, but it is certainly the strongest course of action: You will be exposed emotionally, but the most transformative moments in life happen when one has the courage to be their most vulnerable.
  4. Shame is unhealthy, especially when it’s attached to vulnerability. It’s important to remember that failure is often inevitable and focus on learning from your mistakes instead of falling into the trap of thinking something is wrong with you: You do not want to define yourself by what other people think, otherwise you may find yourself living your life the way someone else wants you to instead of forging your own path. It’s also important to foster kind internal dialogue if you do not reach your goals. Going to therapy might be helpful—It’s perfectly fine if you don’t have everything figured out; no one does.
  5. It’s important not to build an impenetrable emotional wall against the world. A lot of people have experienced deep trauma or other forms of emotional pain: Perhaps you are terrified of abandonment, physical abuse, or emotional abuse and, as a result, you have protected yourself by never opening up to anyone. While this is certainly understandable, it’s difficult—if not impossible—to form genuine bonds when you are so closed off. Of course, you shouldn’t trust anyone recklessly, and it’s honestly advisable to take your time before fully opening up to anyone, but it’s important to let the folks who truly care about you in so that you can experience how fulfilling it is to have people in your life who love you for all of who you are. If this is extremely challenging, it might help to attend therapy so that you can navigate your way through the pain with a professional.
  6. Change is healthy. Acknowledging your mistakes and shortcomings requires a great deal of vulnerability, but you cannot change any problem if you don’t even realize it exists, so recognizing the issue is the first step in the right direction: You may want to write a list of areas where you’d like to improve.
  7. Be careful when it comes to blaming others: It’s all too easy to let someone know about all of the offenses they have committed. It’s a lot more difficult to own up to your own mistakes. It’s important to recognize why you blame people and learn how to hold others accountable without guilt-tripping them in the process. It’s also essential to take responsibility for any errors on your part. In short, learning how to stop shaming others will almost always lead to healthier relationships with your friends, family members, and coworkers.
  8. Lead by example. How many times have you seen a parent tell their child to put their phone away before they pull out their own device and spend hours scrolling through Instagram posts? It’s essential to be the best version of yourself and be a good role model. After all, you can’t change other people, but you can still make a difference in this world by living your best life! If you’re a parent, your children will usually learn more from your actions than they will from your words, no matter how much advice you give them!


I would give Daring Greatly by Brene Brown 5/5 stars because it is such a thorough examination of vulnerability and its impact on our everyday lives. It also explores the challenges of being vulnerable in-depth and provides a solid roadmap for navigating the most transformative—and terrifying—moments of our existence on this earth. This book has helped a lot of people have the courage to tell their spouse what they actually want, treat their coworkers more respectfully, and heal from their past in a way that is extremely impactful.

It inspired me to pursue my dreams.

© 2022 Daniella Cressman

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