Bookish

Big Book Breakdown. Rising Strong. Brené Brown.

February 29, 2020

Big Book Breakdown. Book 1, Rising Strong By Brené Brown. Episode 1, the Introduction.

Big Book Breakdown - Wild
Welcome to Episode 1 of The Big Book Breakdown!
[Book] Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love Parent, and Lead
[Author] Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW. Researcher. Storyteller. Texan.

This is something I have been wanting to start for a long time. Big books can be daunting and discouraging. However, the best experience will always, always, always be reading the book firsthand. With this first author, the best-case scenario is that you read all of her work and learn more about her too. But. Some people don’t have the access or resources to execute the best-case scenario.

After all, reading takes time, dedication, patience, and concentration. And I respect that some folks just don’t have the time to do it. But they take the time to scroll the Herstun Writer. I appreciate that.

Big Book Breakdown: On Brené Brown

Meet the Author of Rising Strong

So, one of the main goals of Herstun is to make information more accessible. I’m starting with Brené Brown. Her books and research hit home with me during some important transitions in my life. She’s one of my absolute favorite scientists in the game currently. (And yes that’s a thing. Let’s bring back having favorite scientists. #LetsGrow).

The book itself is visually small. It’s relatively unassuming in size. And it may be a poor pick for Big Book Breakdown inaugural if the word ‘big’ refers only to page numbers since Rising Strong has a paltry 320 pages. But, Brené’s books are dense. They are information-rich and in my experience, the best reading requires months, several settings, countless meditations, and notes.

It’s my goal to reduce some of that for you by introducing you to some of the topics so that when you read the book nothing is the first time, or foreign. Maybe you have already started the process of meditating, processing, and figuring out how to apply Brown’s research because of these posts. Or maybe you skim this and head over to her site which I have linked aggressively and listen to some of her other work or watch her TED talk. Get it how you live. Let’s get it though.

Big Book Breakdown: On ‘Rising Strong

Meet the first book featured ‘Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead’
Book Book Breakdown - Rising Strong

Rising Strong is the third of six books written by Brown about her research. This one was published by Random House in 2015.

Over the years, Brené Brown has had the privilege of spending time with amazing people. The kind of people we would consider successful.

She’s collected data from entrepreneurs, leaders of Fortune 500 companies, couples who have maintained loving relationships, and parents fighting to improve education. And she asked some really important questions.

Namely this:

What do —

Clergy Walking with People Through Faith,

Trusted Leaders,
Parents with Deep Connections to Their Children,

Consistent Executors,
Teachers Nurturing Creativity & Learning,

& People with Strong Relationships

— have in common?

According to Brené’s research, the answer is clear.

These people all recognize the power of emotion and they’re not afraid to lean in to discomfort.

Vulnerability & Wholehearted Living

While vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for — love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust, to name a few — the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values forged. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; its the process that teaches us the most about who we are.

Rising Strong, xviii, Brené Brown
Big Book Breakdown, Hmm

I have mentioned in some of my Meet the Curator tapes that I prayed for fullness in my life. So, this idea of wholeheartedness really struck a chord with me. Furthermore, it reminded me so much of essays I had read by Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi. Something about wholeheartedness grabbed me.

The thread that runs through [all of my books] is our yearning to live a wholehearted life. I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking. Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afriad, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.

Rising Strong, xix, Brené Brown
The person in the mirror may not be perfect but they are worthy of the love you keep trying to give to everyone else.
Wildenote: I found this to be such an interesting definition of wholeheartedness because engaging in life from a place of worthiness is a radical act for a black person in America. To repeatedly say I am worthy when everything around you is conditioned to tell you that you are not, it’s much harder than it may seem.

Brené’s Goal for Rising Strong: Bring into our awareness all the choices that unfurl in front of us during moments of discomfort and hurt, and to explore the consequences of the choices we make under pressure.

Big Book Breakdown: Rising Strong On Gold Plating Grit & Badassery

Brown claims that the absence of honest conversations around the hard work that takes us from lying facedown to successful results in the propensity to gold-plate grit and a badassery deficit. So, to close out this first episode of the Big Book Breakdown, we are going to look at what she means by ‘gold-plating grit’ and the ‘badassery’.

Gold-Plating Grit & the Gilded Age of Failure

People prefer stories about falling and rising to be inspirational and sanitized. Our culture is full of these tales. We like recovery stories to move quickly through the dark so we can get to the sweeping redemptive ending.

I worry that this lack of honest accounts of overcoming adversity has created a Gilded Age of Failure.

… Embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear that it can cause, or the complex journey that underlies rising strong, is gold-plating grit.

To strip failure of its real emotional consequences is to scrub the concepts of grit and resilience of the very qualities that make them both so important — toughness, doggedness, and perserverance.

Rising Strong, xxiv, Brené Brown
Big Book Breakdown - Gold Plating Grit
Image Courtesy of iHeartRadio.
Is the blended family of Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, and Beatz’ ex Mashonda a good example of gold-plating grit? Check out what Queen had to say about the Blended Truth.
WildeNote: It’s like Lord Tennyson says ‘it’s better to have love and lost, then never to have loved at all.’ EVEN if that love ends in heartbreak. EVEN if learning to love and trust again feels impossible. Brené argues that we should take those dares, dare greatly, and allow ourselves the grace to fail greatly too.
And I have to say that I agree with her.
Big Book Breakdown - Fail

To pretend that we can get to helping, generous, and brave without navigating through tough emotions like desperation, shame, and panic is a profoundly dangerous and misguided assumption.

Rather than gold-plating grit and trying to make failure look fashionable, we’d be better off learning to recognize the beauty in truth and tenacity.

Rising Strong, xxvii, Brené Brown
WildeNote: Think about it this way. All those people we envy, the ones with strong relationships, boss connections, and appear well-loved, they have all been through terrible things. They have navigated the awful along with the awesome. That is why we have to be careful about what we ask God for. Because He will deliver. All of it. The glory and the gore to go along with it.

The Badassery Deficit

Brené Brown is coming for false prophets y’all. She is not having it. According to her emotional stoicism is fake strength, weakness parading itself as leadership and safety. Let’s hear a little of what she says on it.

There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed.

Emotional stoicism is not badassery. Blustery posturing is not badassery. Swagger is not badassery. Perfection is about thee furthest thing in the world from badassery.

… People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.

Rising Strong, xxvii, Brené Brown

I hope I am not the only one that felt like she was speaking DIRECTLY to me INTIMATELY. Like, she called out ALL OF MY BEHAVIORS and told me that I wasn’t shit. SMH.

WildeNote: When I read this I immediately thought about a lot of the celebrities, historical figures, and politicians we admire. And I wondered why we looked up to these people and what we are defining as admirable by looking up to them. I definitely know now that it’s not cool not to care about people. That’s not cool at all. When God does call you home, it’s the people you care about that will remember you. Who are we declaring badasses in our culture? Who are we uplifting?
The question is not about who these people are. Politicians, the rich, the famous, the clergy, we know who they are. The question is, why do we admire them? And by Brené Brown’s standards, are these people badasses and modeling behavior we want our children to model too? Or have we lost our way somewhere? Or maybe we never really had a way, to begin with?

I think that some of the problems can be traced to the internet. Back in the day, we had a much clearer separation of private space and public space. Political, wealthy, and the clergy all had the opportunity to decide what image they presented to the public and what values they represented.

As a matter of fact, in the black community in America, we grew up encouraged to keep family matters to ourselves and at home. The internet and social media challenge that notion. Now, if you are publicly advocating for certain values, you had better also be living those values to perfection or we will find out. Scandals abound. And what do scandals mean? That the people we look up to are human? Are we all guilty of upholding perfection? Or admiring the golden part of grit while rewarding fake badassery without acknowledging the reality and ugliness that go along with it?

It may seem that the internet has created upheaval. Well, it definitely has. But, it has also provided a unique opportunity. What if we tried to use it to do something good. What if the internet is paving the way for our children to all live more wholehearted lives in less judgment and fear than the children of the 20th century did. According to Brené Brown, the first step to that is owning our stories. And even if we go through this process, we can’t be sure that anything will change, but we definitely won’t know if we don’t try. So…

#LetsGrow #LoveAlways #HerstunReads

#BigBookBreakdown

Big Book Breakdown - Title Slide

Credits

Quotes: Rising Strong By Brené Brown.

Analysis & Wildenotes: W.D. Herstun.

Edited By Herstun.

End WildeNotes

I love the idea of mindfulness and living with wholeheartedness. And I noted above the difficulties of engaging in life from a place of worthiness as a black woman in America. When I expand on that, I wonder how difficult it is to practice wholeheartedness and worthiness in prison? Or in lock-up on the border? Where do we get our sense of worthiness if we are in situations far out of our control?

For some reason that made me really question the definition of freedom. Maybe true freedom is the ability to find your source of self-regard and practice your worthiness in the world. Are we providing prisoners with opportunities to heal and learn if we are not giving them the freedom to practice mindfulness? Or are we just creating a class of people doomed to repeat the same actions without being mindful? Additionally, Brown’s research also makes sense of how religion can be so anchoring. God/Allah/Buddha they all say that you are worthy if you can subscribe to them. That simple. None of the other stuff needed.

Thank you so much for reading, this is just the beginning. Episode 1 was the introduction. Episode 2 is the outline/overview, and then Episode 3 gets to the meat of the matter. And trust me, it gets #Wild

Can’t get enough of the quotes and notes? Read along with me over on instagram.com/herstunreads. The content is completely different but the goal is the same. Let’s grow y’all. Thanks for sticking around for this inaugural Big Book Breakdown.

Photos Courtesy of History Channel, iHeartradio, Google Images for Reuse w/ Modification, and My Personal Library.

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  1. This was great! Totally adding her to my reading list. The ideas of wholeheartedness and gold-plated grit…. yikes!! I’ve been processing Feb and those two ideas have linked what I’ve been writing and thinking.

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