Friday, October 9, 2015

Nonfiction: Rising Strong by Brené Brown

I first heard Brené Brown speak at the 2013 Global Leadership Summit. For years now my church has been a satellite location for the summit, which is held annually at Willow Creek Church in Illinois. So I sat in our forever freezing lobby with my volunteer shirt on and listened to Brown speak about vulnerability, and was blown away. Anyone who had read her book, Daring Greatly, raved about it and could not recommend it enough. So when I heard her speak again at this year's Global Leadership Summit and found out that she had another book coming out entitled Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution, I went ahead and bought both books and decided to cover Rising Strong on this blog.

Genre, Themes, History: This is a nonfiction book that is often categorized under "self help." Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. While I may have learned about her through the Global Leadership Summit, many people had heard one of her TED talks via YouTube. She has done research work on the topics of vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness for decades and has published her findings in four books, the latest of which is Rising Strong. Really, Rising Strong is a continuation of what is discussed in Daring Greatly, but that doesn't necessarily mean it can't be read on its own and still make sense. While Daring Greatly focuses on how being vulnerable takes courage - and how most people believe the opposite to be true - Rising Strong is more about the inevitably of falling and what it takes to get back up when we decide to show up and be seen, only to land flat on our face. It is also about vulnerability and courage, but then goes into what it takes to heal after we fall. Through research, personal stories, stories from people who have participated in her studies, and the findings of other experts, Brown continues her explanation of what it takes to be a truly "wholehearted" person. Spoiler Alert - it involves a lot of facing what we are feeling head on and not running from it, or fighting it.

My Verdict: I love Daring Greatly, everyone does. And I figured Rising Strong would be a good book, but not as good as its predecessor. Turns out I actually like this book even more. Maybe it is the subject matter; maybe it is the personal stories; maybe it is the stories of those who participated in her research; maybe it is the practical tools she gives for dealing with our hurt, shame, and anger. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is powerful and worth looking into. Simply filing this under "self help" seems insufficient to me, but I can't think of what else to call it. She is simply acknowledging that if we have the courage to show up and be seen, that we are going to (sometimes) fall and get hurt. And instead of staying down, or running away, or even coming back up swinging, there is a way to get back up that can change everything for the better.

Favorite Moment: Finding out that Brown is also an extreme introvert like myself. Just more proof that just because someone is comfortable talking on a stage, it does not mean they are an extrovert.

Favorite Quotes: "So much of what we hear today about courage is inflated and empty rhetoric that camouflages personal fears about one's likability, ratings, and ability to maintain a level of comfort and status."

"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both." (I have heard Brown say this multiple times in different speeches, but it shows up again in Rising Strong)

"And make no mistake, not paying attention because you're not the one getting harassed or fired or pulled over or underpaid is the definition of privilege."

Recommended Reading: Naturally, I recommend Daring Greatly. Both books are incredibly helpful and allow readers to think about vulnerability, courage, anger, and shame in a very different light from what we're used to.

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