“The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand” (Brené Brown).
Brené Brown is an accomplished storyteller, a researcher, an educator, an author and a speaker. She has been highlighted on the Oprah show. She is an expert in courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. Her TEDtalk on vulnerability has had over 7 million views! Braving the Wilderness is her 5th book and talks about true belonging and the courage to stand alone.
Braving the Wilderness was a bit of a disappointment to me. After watching her TEDtalk, I was expecting more wisdom, more tips, more depth. The book does reinforce that it can be difficult to be yourself. It can be different to stand up and share a dissenting opinion. It can be difficult to spend time alone… braving the wilderness.
Brown shares her research on the quest for belonging and the feelings of loneliness that is prevalent in society. She adds chapters on:
People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In – This chapter uses the example of social media and assumptions about others. It shares the importance of getting to know people and spending time together. It reinforces the simple advice I share with my team to pick up the phone and get to know the partners we work with instead of sending emails. It is so much easier to work together when we have a relationship, reducing the risk of email misperception and terse comments that we would never make during an actual conversation.
Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil – How many of us know individuals who sound so knowledgable, present themselves well, get ahead but really don’t have the expertise? Are you involved in the presention of situations in an “are you with us or against us”, black and white way? How often are we afraid to speak up and have a dissenting opinion? This chapter gives examples of how important critical thinking, authenticity and speaking up can be. It spoke of inclusive language and highlighted the importance of being careful of the words we use.
Hold Hands. With Strangers – The importance of human connection and belonging was described through funerals, marches and also highlighted by a link to this video of Liverpool football club fans singing together.
Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart – this analogy speaks to having a strong spine to support your softer front and chase your dreams.
Overall, there were some important messages in the book but it did leave me looking for more. It is an easy read full of distilled research with the last third of the book full of references if you are looking for more detail. I do think her message is important and will give her other books a try.