Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 4, 2017)
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
I was assigned this title as a monthly reading for a book club I belong to for widows and widowers going through the grief process. Is this a book helpful for readers like us? At first glance, no, not really. Brown's focus is how to get off the ground after you've fallen face down and need to admit your own vulnerability and shame to work through your recovery. Well, those going through the grief process already know about vulnerability and shame rarely applies to that situation.
I admit I felt like I should have liked the book much better after reading some glowing reviews at Amazon and Goodreads. So clearly there is a very responsive audience for Brown's very academic and formulaic approach for working through the hard situations in life. I started to tune out a bit when Chapter Two kicked in and Brown talked about a pivotal moment in her marriage. During an unhappy swim, her husband didn't respond the way she wanted in a brief conversation. Not exactly a turning point for most people. It seemed like the sort of missed communication you can have countless times in a day. That was the first of such small moments that inspired chapter after chapter where Brown, her colleagues, family and friends worked through usually rather small-scale crises. Well, not small-scale to them, of course.
Whatever setback or crisis you face, Brown has a three-part formula for you: The reckoning where you tell your story so you can understand it; the rumble where you face your challenge and take ownership of it; the revolution where you have a transformative experience and move on. Put another way, fall. Get Up. Try again.
Other teachings in the book include: Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.
Hmm, now that I've written all this down, I think I need to rethink my introduction. I still don't think the book is especially helpful for that suffering grief. The section on broken hearts is rather short and did disappoint me. That's what I most needed to explore. But the lessons do seem quite helpful in human and business relationships if you're willing to look at things in ways you hadn't before. For example, if you're willing to accept that most people are doing the best that they can.
So, while Rising Strong might not be the first self-help book you might want to pick up this year, or even the first Brené Brown title to read judging from descriptions of her earlier titles, it's still a tome full of nuggets and insights well worth the price of admission. It could very well be a transformative book in your life.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 5: