On Monday evening, I hosted the first of two Principal’s Book Clubs, where I discussed Daring Greatly by Brené Brown with parents and staff. It was suggested that I share some ‘nuggets’ from the evening in the hope that it might encourage others to read the book, as there is much to consider for us and for our girls.
Here are just few of what I deem the most important nuggets from Brown.
Brown says, “Vulnerability…is the catalyst for courage, compassion and connection.” When I read this for the first time, it struck me as fundamental and something that we, at St. Clement’s, needed to remember as we work with our girls. If our mission is to develop outstanding girls who are courageous and compassionate, they must be guided to be their authentic selves such that they can show their vulnerabilities.
Brown talks about myths of vulnerability, and two of them, in particular, resonated with me. The first is that vulnerability is a weakness, and the second is the notion that we can all “go it alone.” The idea that one must always be in control is unrealistic and potentially dangerous, but is often present amongst our girls. I believe it is essential that our girls know and believe that we all experience vulnerability and that when we do, it is right to seek help.
Along with the importance of understanding vulnerability, Brown writes about perfectionism and its impact. While there is much written on this topic in the book, one highlight for me was her belief that “perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence.” This is something that I believe strongly, and that must be at the core of what we teach our girls. St. Clement’s School is a school that believes and works towards academic excellence; however, a big part of working toward excellence is learning how to learn. This learning is messy, challenging and complex, and cannot be truly effective unless learners know that despite feeling vulnerable, they will push on because they have the courage to do so.
My final nugget is from Brown’s chapter on parenting, and, in essence, encapsulates all of the above ideas into some poignant advice. Brown shares a quotation from Chilton Pearce, a child development expert, who reminds parents that “What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” As we work, in partnership home and School, towards a common mission of developing outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate, we have to remember that showing vulnerability, and not striving for perfection, are fundamental components to attaining that mission.
Thank you to the staff and parents who attended our first Principal’s Book Club. I do hope that the information shared in this blog incites others to read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.