Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Daring Greatly Summary (5 Key Takeaways)

Does being vulnerable make you nervous? Do you run and hide whenever you start to feel vulnerable? This Daring Greatly summary will highlight the top 5 key ideas from Brené Brown’s encouraging book about vulnerability. As the book’s tagline promises, you will learn ‘how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way you live, love, parent, and lead.’

Being Vulnerable Isn’t Easy

Being vulnerable is downright hard! It requires us to face uncertainty and to open up without knowing what will happen to us.

But, ‘daring greatly’ and staring vulnerability right in the eye is rewarding. It is the key to living with the courage to take risks and find growth opportunities that will take you closer to the life you dream of.

Our Daring Greatly summary will walk you through the key ideas covered throughout Brené Brown’s empowering book. This summary acts as an effective Daring Greatly chapter summary. Each of the 5 key takeaways is taken from a different chapter of the book.

Let’s get into our top 5 Daring Greatly key takeaways.

Key Takeaway #1: You Are Enough

In the first chapter of Daring Greatly, Brené Brown introduces a common struggle that we all face – whether we know it or not.

She describes a “shame based fear of being ordinary” that many of us feel. We fear that we will never be enough to be loved, to belong, or to be worthy. This is a theme that is also explored in Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.

This is a feeling you can probably relate to in some way. We constantly feel that we didn’t get enough sleep, we don’t have enough time, and we don’t get enough done. Advertisements tell us that we don’t have enough stuff. And social media makes us feel like we don’t have an exciting enough life compared to our friends.

So how do we fight this feeling that we aren’t enough?

Well, when are being told by the world that you are not enough, you need to deeply and truly commit to believing that you are. This involves daring greatly – meaning that you need let your guard down in the face of uncertainty and risk, and know that you are enough.

It means being vulnerable.

Check out our top 25 Daring Greatly quotes for inspiration to help you embrace your vulnerabilities.

Key Takeaway #2: Vulnerability Myths from Daring Greatly

The next key takeaway in our Daring Greatly summary is about the myths surrounding vulnerability.

We know that fighting the feeling of not being enough involves daring greatly to be vulnerable. But isn’t being vulnerable the same as being weak?

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown tells us, no – absolutely not!

Why Do We See Vulnerability as Weakness?

Our misunderstanding about what it means to be vulnerable is something that is quite common. But why is it that we think that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness? Where does this very damaging belief come from?

To answer this, just think of a time when you felt vulnerable. This might be hard, because it likely isn’t something that you enjoy thinking about. We often associate being vulnerable with darker emotions like fear, shame, sadness, or grief.

These are emotions that usually require us to be vulnerable with people. And since many people aren’t comfortable discussing or sharing these emotions, vulnerability gets lumped into the same category.

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explains that people often don’t recognize that it isn’t just these darker emotions that require us to be vulnerable. Lighter feelings such as joy, love, belonging, and courage also require us to be vulnerable.

Giving our love to another person requires vulnerability. It isn’t easy to open yourself up to someone without knowing that they will share the same feelings. There is a certain risk that comes with opening your heart.

Being creative and coming up with new ideas is being vulnerable. Taking a risk and not knowing if our ideas will be accepted or rejected requires us to dare greatly and brave the uncertainty. Making a mistake and risking judgement from our coworkers requires vulnerability.

Allowing yourself to soak in all the happy moments of your life requires you to be vulnerable. These are the moments that don’t last forever. We have to let our guard down and allow our hearts to be exposed to fully appreciate the moment.

Heck, just waking up and committing to being a person every day requires vulnerability!

Why You Should Be Vulnerable

Since vulnerability is an uncomfortable feeling, it is easy to want to hide from it. But, when we do, we don’t take risks and we stay in our comfort zones. And when we do this, we don’t grow.

We are also our most authentic selves when we are vulnerable. If we want to know ourselves, love ourselves, and show up as ourselves, we need to be vulnerable. And this takes a lot of courage, which, by definition, makes us NOT weak.

There are plenty of false messages that tell people that they can’t show vulnerability. For example, there is a belief that women are expected to be vulnerable, but not too vulnerable, otherwise they are considered ‘overly emotional’. Men are told that showing emotion and vulnerability makes them ‘not masculine’.

Regardless of our race, class, or gender, in Daring Greatly Brené Brown tells us that “vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To believe vulnerability is weakness it to believe that feeling is weakness.”

This is one of the most important points in this Daring Greatly summary. To feel feelings is to be vulnerable. We can’t shut out the negative feelings without also dimming the light of our positive feelings.

It is a scary feeling to know that we could lose something forever in the blink of an eye. This is why it is natural to want to protect ourselves from the feeling of vulnerability.

Key Takeaway #3: How Do We Protect Ourselves From Being Vulnerable?

The next key takeaway in our Daring Greatly summary is something else that we can all relate to.

If no one wants to feel vulnerable, what are the things that we do to avoid our feelings? With a good understanding of what it means to feel vulnerable, you can actually answer this question yourself.

Just think of a time where you:

  • felt scared about the future
  • were nervous to have a difficult conversation
  • had to ask for help
  • looked small in front of someone you admire

What did you do with your feelings? For most of us, the instinct isn’t just to say ‘yeah, okay feelings. I see you. Let’s do it anyway!’


Instead, it is a common instinct to numb feelings of vulnerability. It feels better in the moment to turn away from the feeling of vulnerability and replace it with something more positive.

When putting together this Daring Greatly summary, I realized I have more than a few numbing tendencies when I feel vulnerable. I am guilty of burying my feelings under piles of work. And to keep me going through the excess of work, I drink way too much coffee, and eat everything in sight.

Rather than remembering that I am enough and confronting my feelings of vulnerability, my brain tells me that I need to fill that empty feeling with more stuff.

Perfectionism is another way that people cope with feelings of vulnerability. If we are always perfect, we don’t have to worry about feeling vulnerable, right? We simply escape to a world where we are perfect and never have to feel feelings!

How do you confront feelings of vulnerability? Do you jump to a temporary escape from tough emotions? Or do you choose to lean into the discomfort and dare greatly?

Rather than numbing, the trick is to find the root cause of your feelings and, well, feel them!

Remember, vulnerability doesn’t just come with negative emotions. It comes along with our positive emotions too. And numbing negative emotions makes it hard to fully invest in the joyful moments that are all around us.

Key Takeaway #4: Daring Greatly as a Learner

As a former teacher, this next key takeaway in our Daring Greatly summary one that is close to me.

We have all been a learner at some point. Whether you are a student or an employee, you will need to learn something at some point. And feedback is one of the most important tools to help us learn!

Feedback is provided to explain how we can improve. It is a way of pointing out areas for growth so that we can meet and exceed our potential.

But, for some of us, somewhere along the way feedback starts to get a bad reputation. This happens when we receive feedback and our feelings of ‘not being enough’ start to take over.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that feedback is there to point out the path to getting it right. It isn’t that it is attacking us or pointing out flaws. It is there to help lead us to growth.

But for some of us, hearing that we didn’t do something ‘good enough’ registers as a personal attack. Acknowledging that you have room for improvement requires vulnerability. It means putting yourself out there and opening yourself up for critique. And being critiqued can be tough!

Whether you are a teacher, parent, or an employer, knowing how it feels to be a vulnerable learner is important. We need to understand that the people we are giving feedback to are people with feelings. They are people who are putting vulnerability on the line by learning something new.

This means that as leaders, we have to be courageous and have honest conversations about the role of feedback. We need to speak about strengths and opportunities for growth in a way that supports our learners.

As Sir Ken Robinson has said: “human organizations are not actually mechanisms and people are not components in them. People have values and feelings, perceptions, opinions, motivations and biographies, whereas cogs and sprockets do not.

Key Takeaway #5: Parenting While Daring Greatly Summary

The final key takeaway in our Daring Greatly summary is what we can learn about parenting, belonging, and vulnerability.

Parenting is an experience that brings many uncertainties. There is no single guide to parenting the right way! You know that you want your children to learn to live wholehearted lives, but you never really know if you are successful or not.

Us parents want certainty! Without certainty, we are vulnerable! And that is tough when we have children who are watching our every move!

Modelling Vulnerability

As is the case with most things in parenting, teaching vulnerability means living it ourselves.

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown talks about how this can be tricky because of an ‘if/when’ problem many of us have when it comes to feeling worthy. Common worthiness battles are fought over thoughts like ‘I will be worthy when I lose 10 pounds’ or ‘I will be worthy when I meet the right person’.

So how are we supposed to parent from a place of vulnerability if we struggle with the feeling of worthiness ourselves?

We can’t tell our children that they need to be vulnerable and take risks if we aren’t willing to do the same. And we can’t tell our children that they need to show up in an uncertain and scary situation, yet hide in our comfort zones when we are faced with a similar situation.

We need to model what it means to dare greatly and face vulnerability. It helps to remember quotes like ‘your attitude determines your altitude‘ and ‘never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.‘ These quotes will inspire you to take risks, even when the payoff isn’t guaranteed.

Building a Space of Belonging at Home

One of the most important points in this Daring Greatly summary is about the importance of building a space of belonging at home for our children.

Belonging is not the same thing as fitting in. Fitting in is what we do once we have studied a situation and can figure out what we need to change about ourselves so that we are accepted. This does not require us to be vulnerable and own who we are.

Belonging is what we feel when we show up as ourselves. We belong when we bring our flaws and vulnerabilities out for all to see, and are accepted unconditionally.

This is what we want in our homes. We want our kids to know that they can be themselves, be vulnerable, and will always be accepted no matter what. In family, being worthy doesn’t have conditions.

We want our kids to be able to say “yes I am messy, dirty, and my teeth need to be brushed, but I am worthy of my parents’ love. No matter what.”

Daring Greatly Summary: Final Thoughts

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is a highly insightful and impactful book. The tagline promise is 100% delivered by the time you close the book.

You start believing that you are enough once you start learning to be vulnerable and show up as your authentic self. And when you shut down the lie that vulnerability is weakness, you emotionally empower yourself.

When you reflect on the ways that you protect yourself from feeling vulnerable, you start to find ways to develop healthier habits. You learn to embrace vulnerability rather than running from it.

When you own your own vulnerabilities, it becomes more natural to have honest conversations about feedback and growth at work. And we begin to understand the importance of ensuring that our homes are spaces where our children experience the feeling of belonging.

How can you use the takeaways from this Daring Greatly summary in your life? What does daring greatly mean to you? How will you confront your feelings the next time you are feeling vulnerable? Anything is possible when you choose the courage to embrace the power of vulnerability.

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone who struggles with vulnerability, this could be the push they need!

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