September 02, 2021
Books Recommended by Brené Brown
One of the core tenets of Dr. Brené Brown’s teachings is the power of owning your story - so it any surprise that her favorite books can also help us better understand our place in the world?
Dr. Brené Brown is an icon of leadership and female empowerment. A professor, bestselling author, podcaster, and public speaker, Brown has gained considerable public attention over the years for her Ted Talks (the most famous one perhaps being ‘The Power of Vulnerability,’) her collaborations with other authors and speakers like Simon Sinek, or any of her New York Times bestsellers (our favorites include Dare to Lead, Rising Strong, and The Gifts of Imperfection). she’s helped millions of women with leadership, creating boundaries, living with more empathy and less shame, and so much more.
Books are a great way for us to get in touch with our own origin stories. From self-help and psychology books, to memoirs, to calls-to-courage from inspirational authors, these books - recommended by Brené Brown herself - will help prepare you for a life of trust and resilience.
In this chaotic modern era, self care is more important than ever. And who knows? With these titles, you might even encounter some useful self-improvement tips along the way.
It’s easy to get down on yourself and label your ideas as stupid. But what if instead of writing off your wackiest ideas, you pursued them? That’s the experiment at the root of The Power of Starting Something Stupid.
Many high achievers accidentally become perfectionists. But no endeavor starts out perfect. As Richie Norton unpacks in this book, some of our generation’s best, most groundbreaking products and companies started out as ideas that felt ‘absurd’, ‘stupid’, or ‘unrealistic’.
Being authentically yourself, one of Brené Brown’s core tenets, means learning to embrace your creativity - no matter how silly it may seem.
Key lessons from this book:
- Trust your gut. There will always be naysayers, no matter how good or bad your idea is. So if you think you have a good idea, follow through - other people's opinions are a dime a dozen, and if you listen to them, you’ll never get anywhere. (Of course, Harry Potter was infamously rejected 11 times before it was published.)
- Break your big idea into small chunks. Starting your own business only sounds stupid when you’re thinking about doing it without proper preparation. When you take it in small steps, the idea becomes manageable.
- Don’t make excuses; start from wherever you are. There are lots of ways to say ‘I can’t,’ or ‘I’m not ready.’ They’re all excuses. Instead of falling back on a crutch, start from where you are.
Who’s more inspiring than Michelle Obama? Heroine to millions, the former First Lady’s journey from young Chicago kid, to law school star, to wife of the President is informative, entertaining, and inspiring. Best of all, it’s an important case study in trusting yourself to ‘become’ the person you’re meant to be.
Here’s the main takeaways from Michelle Obama’s incredible journey:
- No matter where you’re from or what odds you’re rising up against, you can always work to be your best self and learn about the world around you. Michelle uses the example of her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago to illustrate this point.
- The people who tell you you can’t do something? Ignore them. Michelle was dealt with a lot of ‘no’s’ as a Black woman hoping to attend law school, and she got through by paying them absolutely no attention.
- Always be trying new things. Michelle was living in the White House as First Lady and still finding lots of new endeavors.
You don’t become the CEO of Disney without some serious self work and interesting stories. Roger Iger’s life’s work prepared him to excel at Disney from a low position all the way to CEO. Furthermore, when Iger became CEO of Disney in 2005, the company was actually struggling. He turned it around and lived to tell the tale.
Our summary on Uptime explores the following takeaways from Ride of a Lifetime:
- Success sometimes reveals itself from a seeming coincidence. Whatever you might call it - luck, fate, coincidence - it’s always a good time to look to the natural rhythms of life for guidance. For instance, Iger’s uncle was recovering from surgery in the same hospital room as an ABC executive, which in turn led to his first job in the media industry.
- Test out all your ideas, even the ‘dumb’ ones. Just like stopping the fear of stupidity, you need to test all of your ideas, not just the ones that sound perfect the first time around. Iger learned this for real when he convinced Steve Jobs to join Disney with Pixar.
- Embrace your network, no matter the challenge. After Pixar, Iger leveraged his relationship with Jobs to get in with the notoriously reclusive CEO of Marvel.
Why do we humans spend so much time beating ourselves up? When you arm yourself with the gift and power of self compassion, you can learn how to stop judging and criticizing yourself. In this important book, Kristin Neff takes you through your past to find where your negative self-talk originates from, as well as how to combat it.
Our favorite lessons:
- To find the source of your self-criticism, look back to childhood.
- Think of yourself as a friend. What would you say to a friend in trouble? How would you help them? Apply that to yourself instead of beating yourself up.
- It’s hard to be kind to yourself when the pain is fresh. Evaluate it from a distance to practice self care. In this situation, you need to both be giving care and receiving it. By being the giver, you become separate from the pain, and that helps to overcome it.
Let’s stop worrying about everything that's wrong with us. Instead, we should start identifying what happened to cause our trauma, and work from there. A conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry illustrates this inaction. Winfrey discusses her own trauma, and her conversation with Bruce illuminates incredible learning about child psychology.
The most vital resources she shares include:
- Our brain chemistry has a lot of hidden secrets that can help unlock our mental anguish. Neuroscience and psychology have a lot more in common than you realize, and learning about the links can help you heal.
- Our brains change in response to trauma, but the opposite is also true: we can rewire them with positive experiences too, in a few simple steps.
- The way we live now with small families and few connections isn't good for children. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’; communal living strategies can help stop trauma from recurring in future generations.
(PS - if you want more wisdom from everyone's favorite media mogul, we've also collected a list of Oprah Winfrey's favorite reads for you to look through.)
Don’t fear not being good enough. That fear comes from a bad place in society, and the ways it manifests aren’t healthy for anyone. Instead of fearing imperfection, embrace it.
Fear is cultural, societal, and personal. Grange is a sports psychologist; during her work helping sports teams overcome their fear of penalties, she discovered mental tricks that she realised could help a much larger audience.
The insights include:
- Societal ideals of success actually make us more fearful, because we're afraid of not living up to these false gods.
- When you think you aren’t good enough, it’s a toxic feeling that leads to anxiety, exhaustion, and isolation, all of which stop you from leading a full life.
- Grange helps change your response to fear through behavioral techniques, focus exercises, and changing your personal narrative.
The journey of self improvement is a long and arduous one, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Leaders like Brené Brown are here to help you find the mentors to begin and continue your journey. To discover more of their wisdom, check out their work on Uptime.