Braving the Wilderness

Posted January 3, 2018 in What We're Reading

By: Brené Brown

Reviewed by: Susan MacKenzie

The Premise: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown is a timely book for today’s increasingly ‘us versus them’ tribal environment.  Social connection has helped us survive as a species but people are increasingly isolated as perspectives are polarized (anything from politics, sexual harassment to child-rearing), many of us feel we are often walking on eggshells and increasingly ‘in the wilderness.’ As leaders, how can we navigate with the courage to remain authentic to our beliefs but still retain a sense of belonging to humanity as a whole – not just ‘our tribe’? Brené Brown, who made it much safer to be vulnerable, now delves into finding true belonging without compromising your own authenticity.  

Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Chief Surgeon of the U.S. recently wrote an HBR article, “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic.” He describes how isolation contributes to chronic stress, which can lead to so many physical and mental health problems. There are definite implications for business, as Gallup research uncovered – strong social connections increase engagement and quality of work.

A dedicated social scientist, Brown has pulled together statistics, best practices and practical strategies to find belonging. She’s a great story teller with anecdotes from her research and her own diverse Texan family.

Four common sense practices are identified to find belonging (not just ‘fitting’ in), two of which include ‘getting close to people of all perspectives’ and ‘Speak the Truth to Bullshit’ with a reminder to be civil and to not dehumanize others. My arch-conservative Albertan mother commonly refers to my ‘tree-hugging Ontario liberal stance’ (which I embrace), so my own personal ah-ha was that to truly embrace humanity, I need to be equally offended when Trump is called names or photoshopped as a Nazi as when Obama or Hillary Clinton were demeaned or mocked.  Honestly, I’m still working on that one, but it’s a reminder to keep our minds open and take the high road.

The Bottomline: I enjoyed this book. Brené Brown is capable of taking ‘soft’ concepts and explaining them with a combination of data and adept storytelling.  She’s taken a challenging subject to which many of us have lost energy over the past year and given practical steps to decrease our isolation from others.  From a workplace perspective, we need more trust and belonging and far less polarization.  

Roundtable Recommendation: This book will give you personal strategies on how to bridge the isolation gap. Thoughtful and optimistic reading for 2018.  Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *