Daring Greatly (Book Review with Quotes)

Daring Greatly (Book Review with Quotes)

Daring Greatly Book review

For our book club that met last night, we read Daring Greatly, and all felt is was a worthwhile read. To sum it up: in order to dare greatly, you must start by becoming resilient to shame, then become willing to be vulnerable, and which in turn will give you the courage to step out and dare greatly. This makes sense to me and resonates as true in my experience.

We liked the accessibility of the book, and the perspective and permission it gave. We loved the author’s conversations with her daughter. We looked at the stereotypical gender roles and how they have been used to shame us and hold us back. We reframed what was a “win” to us, defining it more as being brave and showing up, instead of meeting some standard.

My biggest take away from this book is that I am rather shameless (other than body-shaming!), and I’m quite willing to be vulnerable. That’s why I am so daring and comfortable with risk. I realized that I qualify as extremely “wholehearted,” and have already done the long, hard work to overcome limiting stereotypes and “what other people will think.” But I want to incorporate some of the ideas in this book with my teaching of students in my abstract art classes, because fear of vulnerability is very present in those that step out of doing representational art, where others can pat them on the back when it looks “right.” And this book gave me to tools to articulate that better to help others.

Here are some bits from the book to give you a flavor:

  • (page 9 will end up being a blog post of its own)
  • “Wholehearted living is about 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.”
  • “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”
  • “…a mindset of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.”
  • “Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me. I’m am drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.”
  • “What is worth doing even if I fail?”
  • “I told Ellen to think about her friendships as marble jars. Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.”
  • “Trust is a product of vulnerability that grows over time and requires work, attention and full engagement. Trust isn’t a grand gesture– its a growing marble collection.”
  • “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands. The people who love me and will be there regardless of the outcome are in arm’s reach. This realization changed everything.”
  • “Often ‘not being good at vulnerability’ means that we’re damn good at shame.”
  • Sharing something that you’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and wholehearted living. It’s the epitome of daring greatly. But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self worth to how your product or art is received. In simple terms if they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t, you’re worthless.”
  • “With an awareness of shame and strong shame resilience skills, this scenario is completely different. You still want folks to like, respect, and even admire what you’ve created, but your self worth is not on the table…. When our self worth isn’t on the line, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.”
  • “Shame started as a two person experience, but as I got older, I learned how to do shame all by myself.”
  • “Shame resilience is the ability to say, ‘This hurts. But success and recognition and approval are not the value that drives me. My value is courage and I was just courageous. You can move on, shame.'”
  •  “When looking at the attributes associated with masculinity in the US, researchers identified the following: winning, emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, playboy, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, distain for homosexuality, and pursuit of status.”
  • “To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
  • “Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.”
  • “I’ve learned more about worthiness, resilience, and joy for people who courageously share their struggles with me.”
  • “Healthy striving is self focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other focused: What will they think?”
  • “Perfectionism crushes creativity.”
  • “Once the word art enters the description of what you are up to, it is almost like getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection.”
  • “Faith minus vulnerability equals politics, or worse extremism. Spiritual connection and engagement is not built on compliance, it is a product of love, belonging, and vulnerability.”
  • “We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.”
  • “Learning and creating are inherently vulnerable.”
  • “This work has taught me that when I’m feel self-righteous, it means I’m afraid. It’s a way to puff up and protect myself when I’m afraid of being wrong, making someone angry, or being blamed.”
  • “Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.”

We give this book five stars. Give it a read to find another level of freedom from your own inner gremlins.

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Susan 2 years ago

    I don’t understand why you read psychology books as a Christian Scientist?

    • Author
      Polly Castor 2 years ago

      I’m interested in thought at all levels and understanding the human condition helps reach people where they feel they are when attempting to lift them higher.


  1. […] Daring Greatly (blog here) […]

  2. […] this for a recent book group, and had a great discussion about it, but did not like it as well as the previous one we read in 2019 by this author, Daring Greatly. Because she repeats some of the same stories, and the text needed some serious editing for […]

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