Daring Greatly: 13 Lessons on How to Embrace Vulnerability

For anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, it will come as no surprise to you that we’re on a bit of a self-help/motivational/live-your-best-life book spree.

And considering our Christmas list consisted of about 10 more, we don’t see it stopping any time soon 🙂

We are big believers that education shouldn’t stop when your formal schooling ends. We’re also big believers that not enough time is spent in those formal schooling years on how we can become the best versions of ourselves.

Once our own little quarter-life crisis began, we dove head-first into reading as many eye-opening books, following as many blogs (we’re looking at you Seth Godin & Tim Ferriss!), and watching as many TED Talks as possible.

It’s with this last part that we discovered BrenĂ© Brown, well-renowned shame researcher.

If you haven’t watched her famous TED Talk (it’s been viewed almost 23 MILLION times – this woman knows what she is talking about!), we HIGHLY recommend it. Actually, we insist. Go watch it now.

While this TED Talk went viral back in 2010, we recently stumbled across her talk on Super Soul TV about the anatomy of trust. In it, Brené mentions many of her points from her #1 New York Times Bestselling book, Daring Greatly.

By this point, I’ve now had about 10 different people tell me I need to read Daring Greatly after telling them about QFYC. I was now convinced that these people probably had a good inkling for recommending her work and immediately ordered the book.

Man, were they spot on. This book is up there with the Alchemist and Thrive for me. And while I know this book deserves many more posts about all the different ideas and wisdom Brené shares throughout Daring Greatly, I thought it may be best to start with 13 of my favorite, aha-inducing quotes:

1. Over the years I’ve learned that a surefooted and confident mapmaker does not a swift traveler make.

BrenĂ© has years and years of experiencing researching shame and vulnerability. She has heard countless stories and has theories that are esteemed by Oprah. Does that make her an expert in the field? I’d certainly think so. That being said, she’s the first person to admit that just because she knows all of this information about the power and need for vulnerability in our lives, doesn’t mean that she’s the best at living out her own wisdom.

This hit the nail on the head for me – at QFYC, we aim to share a wide range of articles, tools, resources, and wisdom in order to educate and empower our community to live their best lives. And while I have learned over and over again about what it means to Dare Greatly, as BrenĂ© puts it, it sure doesn’t mean that I’m great at implementing it into my own life. In fact, I can be pretty terrible at listening to my own advice. It was certainly a relief to know I’m not the only one who struggles with practicing what they preach.

2. The perception that vulnerability is weakness is the most widely accepted myth about vulnerability and the most dangerous.

THANK YOU, BrenĂ©. For some reason, our society feels this need to “have it all together” at all times – or at least portray that to the world around us. While social media plays a large role in this, there seems to be this overarching theme as we grow up that showing up as your true, full self is simply not acceptable. We’re too weird. We’re not perfect. We have flaws and fears and doubts. Well guess what – we ALL do. And the only way to live our best life is to embrace ALL of that, not just in ourselves, but in others too.

3. We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us.

When people honor their calling and decide to Dare Greatly in their own lives, we applaud them. We love seeing people chase their dream and succeed. So why don’t we cheer ourselves on in that same way? So many times we’re too scared to step out into the arena and take risks. We’re too embarrassed or scared of rejection to put ourselves out there – our full, REAL selves. We don’t live out our truths because we hold ourselves back from sharing them with the world.

I’m the first to admit my hesitation in revealing my true self to everyone. A big reason we started this community was to challenge ourselves to show up and be vulnerable about the challenges we were facing and empower others to do the same. We need to allow ourselves the opportunity to discover who we really are and who we want to be – just as we celebrate others who do so.

4. Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.

Amen. This has probably been one of the most difficult lessons we’ve learned since starting QFYC. Unfortunately, there are always going to be those who love to criticize. If you choose a different path for your life, more likely than not there are going to be people that do not agree with you – and you bet they’re going to let you know that. More often than not, those people are going to hide behind their screens, sending anonymous emails and comments. Sometimes, they are going to say it right to your face.

But you know what? They are not the ones who are Daring Greatly. Listen to those whom you trust, and then listen to yourself. Don’t judge your own worthiness by the opinions of small minds behind computer screens.

5. If we are going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.

It’s funny that we’ve now spent over a year and a half trying to put into words our mission for this community, and BrenĂ© Brown seems to sum it up so perfectly here. We need each other to push through our shame and be vulnerable. We need to love and support each other as we work to become our most authentic seth. We need community.

6. Joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

Ironically enough, chasing down the extraordinary in our own lives is what made us recognize the importance of the every day moments. We have the opportunity each and every day to love the live we are in – joy is a choice. It’s in the small moments just as much as the life-changing ones.

7. Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s the hazardous detour.

I should probably paint this across my wall. As a recovering perfectionist, I know far too well the hazards of perfectionism. For many of us, we feel the need to do everything “right.” We hold ourselves back from starting something or sharing it with others because it “isn’t ready yet.”

Perfectionism gives the power of our worthiness to external factors: to how well we perform or how much of the “shoulds” we achieve. It inhibits us from living out our “musts” – our truths. (ps – another awesome article: The Crossroads of Should & Must)

8. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.

Exactly why Boycott Busy was the first Intentionalitee design. We fill up our lives with so many non-important but urgent things, instead of taking time to step back and focus on what truly matters. We don’t need to work the most amount of hours or make the most amount of money to be the happiest – in fact, many studies show that those things actually have the opposite affect on our happiness.

We need to start living our lives in a way that aligns with our values. What is important to YOU? How can you live each day according to that purpose?

9. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Self-love for the win.

We will always struggle to belong if we haven’t even accepted ourselves. As a people-pleaser, I constantly struggle with the need to feel like I belong, and that I’m doing right by others. Only recently have I started to learn that I need to love and accept myself before seeking the love and approval of others. We can only be loved by others as much as we love ourselves.

10. If we are the kind of people who “don’t do vulnerability,” there’s nothing that makes us feel more threatened and more incited to attack and shame people than to see someone daring greatly. Someone else’s daring provides an uncomfortable mirror that reflects back our own fears about showing up, creating, and letting ourselves be seen. That’s why we come out swinging. When we see cruelty, vulnerability is likely to be the driver.

See #4 above. When we see anger or criticism from others, many times it stems from their own discomfort. Living out your truth and honoring what’s important in your own life causes others to bring into question the way they live their own life.

There are always going to be those who are mean-spirited. Be vulnerable anyway.

11. Minding the gap is a daring strategy. We have to pay attention to the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be.

Life is a journey. To be quite honest, I’m not sure we’re ever supposed to reach a place where we feel finished. That being said, I also think it’s important to appreciate where we are, while still looking towards how we want to grow. But we’ll never know how to get there if we don’t know where we are right now. Self-reflection and vulnerability are the paths to minding the gap.

12. Putting down the measuring stick in a culture that uses acquisitions and accomplishments to assess worth is not easy.

It may sound hokey-pokey, but you are enough. This is one of the biggest struggles for me, and something that I constantly need to remind myself of (Remember quote #1? Just because we know something, doesn’t mean we’re all that great at living out that same wisdom..).

We can only measure ourselves against who we were before and who we want to be moving forward.

Your worth is not defined by how many A’s you received (I wish I knew this in high school), or how nice of a car you drive, or how many places you’ve traveled to. While our culture may hold acquisitions and accomplishments in high esteem (and by all means, they should be celebrated), they do not define our worth.

13. Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

Connection is why we exist. It’s why QFYC was born, and it’s probably why you’re reading this post. We want to feel connected to others; we want to know we’re not alone in our fears and struggles, and we want to know that we can grow stronger together. Connection means loving and supporting each other as we each strive to Dare Greatly in our own lives.


If you’ve read this far, you’ve just witnessed our own experiment in Daring Greatly. It may be a small step, but we’re challenging ourselves to speak our truth and be more vulnerable and self-aware. Will you join us? How do you show up and Dare Greatly in your own life?

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