Book Club: Rising Strong by Brené Brown


Each semester, the division of student affairs at my institution has a professional development book club. Besides book clubs through work, I have never been involved with one before. I see a bunch on around my area, but I always have a reason (ie. excuse) for not being able to attend. I do struggle with the application piece and reading beyond the surface, though I understand that practice makes…well, not necessarily perfect, but much better than where I started.

Last year, we read Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. This nonfiction book really got to the heart of what intrinsic motivation for ourselves and to encourage others looks like. Being my first book club experience, I did my best to make the connections to what Pink was informing us readers about and how we as a division can implement some of the ideas into our work and our personal lives. The facilitators of our small group discussions did a phenomenal job of asking questions that dug a little deeper than “What did you think?”

I kept thinking about what drives me. It is a simple question, yet difficult to answer. I sent this image to one of my best friends who shared with me his struggle with finding purpose.


Lo and behold, it has become my mantra as well as my background image on my various smart devices. I remember the Vice President of Student Affairs at my alma mater mentioning in his opening remarks to the newest class of first-years or faculty/staff that he wakes up every morning excited about his work. That has always stuck with me and what I believe is my driving force. Extrinsically, yes the financial compensation and other benefits are a draw, however they aren’t everything. I have a number of passions that keep me up at night or I daydream about. Having something that makes me want to wake up and anticipate the day every day is what motivates me.

As I have discerned from this past book club experience, there is power in conversation and reflection both in the larger group and also individually. Rising Strong by Brené Brown is this semester’s selection. I am hesitant to admit that I have not read Brown’s moving book Daring Greatly, though I have heard positive feedback! In my line of work, we talk a great deal about vulnerability. Personally, I tend to be one who is quite protective of who I am and my flaws. However, either way my opinions go for the book club selection this time, I think Daring Greatly is a strong candidate for my own personal development. Based on reading the synopsis and the titles of both, I believe they go hand in hand in not just professional development but a personal growth that emerges in all kinds of situations. Though it will be a challenge by choice opportunity, I feel that the only way for me to grow and connect with Brown’s message is to go deeper and communicate those disappointments and failures that I have no doubt experienced and even repeated in my life. Not only will the conversation amongst the book club members be valuable, but also having time to reflect (on this blog in particular) what my thoughts and feelings are as the message sinks in past the turning of the last page.

This will be an incredible journey, I can tell. Who’s with me?!

The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. The author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection tells us what it takes to get back up, and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle, Brené Brown writes, can be our greatest call to courage, and rising strong our clearest path to deeper meaning, wisdom, and hope.

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