I love audiobooks. I especially enjoy non-fiction books read by the author. In the time before social distancing, I would listen to books during my drive to work, on my lunch break, while doing errands...pretty much any time I was in my car. So when one day I found myself needing to pull the car over due to the sobs and emotion rising in me from just the forward of the book, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, I knew I had found an author that got me. When I was asked to write a book review, I grabbed the copy of Dare to Lead by the same author that a dear friend gave me for Christmas. It did not disappoint.

Brene’ Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, and has spent 20 years studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. You may be one of the 35 million people who have viewed her TED talk on vulnerability. Or perhaps you’ve seen the Netflix documentary where she discusses what it takes to choose courage over comfort in today’s culture. If by chance, you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Brown’s work in any of these formats, I encourage you to read Dare to Lead. Before you can say, “But I’m not a leader,” ask yourself this: Do you have interaction with people on a daily basis? If so, you will benefit from reading this book.

Brown defines a leader as, “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.” She maintains that courage is a collection of skill sets that can be taught, measured and observed.

Those four skill sets are: rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust and learning to rise. Words like vulnerability, values, and trust can strike fear in hearts and minds. But Brown has a skillful way of encouraging the development of those skills in her readers. Through relatable examples and bite-size challenges, daring leadership seems attainable. One of my biggest take-aways from this book is that leadership strategies can make us better partners and parents. Who among us doesn’t want better relationships with the people in our circles?

Dare to Lead is not a method book or a check-list of management level tasks. It is a fact-based, strategy-proven guidebook to help readers walk through vulnerability to get to courage. Along the way, we all have to deal with obstacles that prevent us from being self-aware enough to lead from courage rather than hurt or fear. Obstacles like living into our values and never being silent about hard things. Connecting with and caring for those we lead. Naming our obstacles. Shame.

That last one is a biggie. Brown spends a good portion of the book looking at the difference between Armored Leadership and Daring Leadership. Spoiler alert: Armored Leadership is never healthy. The good news is that shame resilience is possible, teachable and within reach for all of us. I could tell you more about shame resilience, but I really want you to read and experience the joy of it for yourself! We all mess up, but we don’t have to stay in that messed up place. Like Brown says, “When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending.”