Daring Greatly

Posted by Sooz on Sunday, March 31, 2013 | 1 Comment

“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 face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  I recently watched an interview she did with Oprah discussing her book Daring Greatly. Brené told how after she gained tremendous attention from a TEDTalk she gave in 2010, she was undone by some of the critical comments people made about her. Her TEDTalk has been viewed by over 8 million people to date and has been very influential around the world, but of course, with success comes criticism. Brené told how some of the cruel remarks online broke her down and left her feeling greatly discouraged. Shortly after reading some of these comments, she came across the quote above by Theodore Roosevelt. In that moment she realized that to Dare Greatly is the goal and that the critic does not count.


Does the critic count in your life? Sad to say, it does in mine. I have come to realize lately that it matters more than I want it to. Fortunately, Daring Greatly matters more. Brené shares about and teaches the importance of vulnerability in her work. She states that the research clearly shows that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”  Without vulnerability we are trapped and cannot become the people we are meant to be. She describes vulnerability this way: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Dr. Brown’s work has been on my mind since I first saw her TEDTalk online then wrote about her for SaveGoodness. She has so much deep important Goodness to offer that I wanted to focus again on her work.

One thing Dr. Brown suggests is that we have a Vulnerability Armory – that “go to” place where we store the armor we use to protect ourselves from emotional pain, diminishment, and disappointment. When we feel threatened we reach for that armor to protect ourselves, a habit we learned from childhood. As adults we must drop the armor to access the vulnerability we need to make real connections with others.

She talks about three main shields that we put up to protect ourselves. I am borrowing Steve Safigan’s  breakdown of these shields because it is concise and easy to understand.


Shield #1 = Foreboding instead of Joy. When we start to feel joy, we wait for the other shoe to drop. We believe that when things are going well, disaster must be right around the corner.

To Dare Greatly = Practicing Gratitude. Joy is an invitation to acknowledge how truly grateful we are. Research participants consistently linked joy with gratitude, and saw gratitude as a spiritual practice that they associated with a belief in human connectedness and a greater power.


Shield #2 = Perfectionism. Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system. We think that if we are perfect, we can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

To Dare Greatly = Appreciating the Beauty of Cracks. We must transform our thoughts from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.” We must practice self-compassion. Brown refers to researcher Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion.


Shield #3 = Numbing. We numb ourselves emotionally. The need for numbing comes from our intolerable feelings of shame, anxiety, and disconnection.

To Dare Greatly = Set Boundaries, Find True Comfort, and Cultivate Spirit. Shame-resilient research participants consistently showed the following behaviors: They learned how to actually feel their feelings. They stayed mindful about numbing behaviors even as they struggled with them. They learned how to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions. Finally, they learned to change the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that created anxiety.

When we allow that sense of foreboding to steal our joy then we have not dared to be vulnerable enough to risk disappointment. When we practice perfectionism then we have not dared to be vulnerable enough to be real with others. When we numb ourselves we have not dared to be fully present to life. In all these ways we cheat ourselves and others from the fullness of what life has to offer and we remain hungry in our souls.

I hope you will take the time to watch Brené talk with Oprah. It will strengthen and challenge you to Dare Greatly. We at SaveGoodness are working on Daring Greatly – trying to choose to LIVE life, not just hide to survive. Where are you in the journey? In what ways are you Daring Greatly? We’d love to hear from you!!


A "Good" Idea:
Do you Dare Greatly? Find out what that menas and why there is Goodness in it!


One Response

  1. Sharon says:

    Great reminder this morning. I love the Theodore Roosevelt quote. I’ve never heard that before.

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