100 Top Quotes From Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown stands as a profound and insightful guide to leadership that transcends conventional approaches. Drawing from her extensive research on vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy, Brown challenges traditional notions of leadership, advocating for a wholehearted approach that nurtures human connections and fosters psychological safety in the workplace. Through compelling storytelling and actionable strategies, she empowers leaders to embrace vulnerability as a strength, rather than a weakness, and cultivate a culture of belonging and trust.

Brown identifies key leadership skills like empathy, active listening, and ethical decision-making that lay the foundation for daring leadership. In this thought-provoking book, she addresses the fears and limiting beliefs that hold leaders back from embracing their authentic selves, encouraging them to step into their roles with courage and compassion. "Dare to Lead" serves as a wake-up call for a new era of leadership that prioritizes human connection and vulnerability, ultimately empowering leaders to create environments where individuals can thrive and organizations can flourish. (Dare to Lead Summary).

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Dare to Lead Quotes

"At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized.” (Meaning)

"The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

"I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

"If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their lives but who will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgment at those who dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fearmongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in what you have to say.”

"People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.”

"Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

"We fail the minute we let someone else define success for us.”

"Don't grab hurtful comments and pull them close to you by rereading them and ruminating on them. Don't play with them by rehearsing your badass comeback. And whatever you do, don't pull hatefulness close to your heart. Let what's unproductive and hurtful drop at the feet of your unarmored self."

"Show up for people in pain and don’t look away.”

"Daring leaders work to make sure people can be themselves and feel a sense of belonging.”

"If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”

"If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities”

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"The only thing I know for sure after all of this research is that if you’re going to dare greatly, you’re going to get your ass kicked at some point. If you choose courage, you will absolutely know failure, disappointment, setback, even heartbreak. That’s why we call it courage. That’s why it’s so rare.”

"Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world:”

"It turns out that trust is in fact earned in the smallest of moments. It is earned not through heroic deeds, or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.”

"We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again."

"Choose courage over comfort”

"Feeding people half-truths or bullshit to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind.”

"To be the person who we long to be—we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen.”

"Rather than spending a reasonable amount of time proactively acknowledging and addressing the fears and feelings that show up during change and upheaval, we spend an unreasonable amount of time managing problematic behaviors.”

"Why do we insist on dress-rehearsing tragedy in moments of deep joy? Because joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel. And that’s saying something, given that I study fear and shame. When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability—it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in”

"For me, that strong back is grounded confidence and boundaries. The soft front is staying vulnerable and curious. The mark of a wild heart is living out these paradoxes in our lives and not giving into the either/or BS that reduces us. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, and, above all else, being both fierce and kind.”

"One of the signature mistakes with empathy is that we believe we can take our lenses off and look through the lenses of someone else. We can’t. Our lenses are soldered to who we are. What we can do, however, is honor people’s perspectives as truth even when they’re different from ours."

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"So often, when someone is in pain, we’re afraid to say, “Yes, this hurts. Yes, this is a big deal. Yes, this sucks.” We think our job is to make things better, so we minimize the pain.”

"People, people, people are just people, people, people.”

"If you put shame in a petri dish and cover it with judgment, silence, and secrecy, you’ve created the perfect environment for shame to grow until it makes its way into every corner and crevice of your life. If, on the other hand, you put shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, shame loses its power and begins to wither. Empathy creates a hostile environment for shame—an environment it can’t survive in, because shame needs you to believe you’re alone and it’s just you.”

"In the end, the cure for numbing is developing tools and practices that allow you to lean into discomfort and renew your spirit.”

"Trust is in fact earned in the smallest of moments.”

"We have to be able to take feedback—regardless of how it’s delivered—and apply it productively. We have to do this for a simple reason: Mastery requires feedback. I don’t care what we’re trying to master—and whether we’re trying to develop greatness or proficiency—it always requires feedback.”

"I’m also not a fan of anything that’s brutal, including honesty. Honesty is the best policy, but honesty that’s motivated by shame, anger, fear, or hurt is not “honesty.” It’s shame, anger, fear, or hurt disguised as honesty. Just because something is accurate or factual doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a destructive manner: “Sorry. I’m just telling you the truth. These are just the facts.”

"I always bring my core values to feedback conversations. I specifically bring courage, which means that I don’t choose comfort over being respectful and honest—choosing politeness over respect is not respectful.”

"We asked a thousand leaders to list marble-earning behaviors—what do your team members do that earns your trust? The most common answer: asking for help. When it comes to people who do not habitually ask for help, the leaders we polled explained that they would not delegate important work to them because the leaders did not trust that they would raise their hands and ask for help. Mind. Blown.”

"Empathy is a choice. And it’s a vulnerable choice, because if I were to choose to connect with you through empathy, I would have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. In the face of a difficult conversation, when we see that someone’s hurt or in pain, it’s our instinct as human beings to try to make things better. We want to fix, we want to give advice. But empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the brave choice to be with someone in their darkness—not to race to turn on the light so we feel better.”

"Mastery requires feedback.”

"Self-compassion is an easy list to write, and a hard list to live. For me, it’s all about sleep, healthy food, exercise, and connection. It’s what I mentioned in the concussion story—the best predictor of living into my values is being in physical, spiritual, and emotional shape.”

"Know I’m living outside my values when I am…drum roll…this is a huge issue for me…resentful. Resentment is my barometer and my early warning system. It’s the canary in the coal mine. It shows up when I stay quiet in order not to piss off someone. It shows up when I put work before my well-being, and it blows the doors off the hinges when I’m not setting good boundaries.”

"There is an incredibly important, uncomfortable, and brave discussion that every single leader and every organization in the world should be having about privilege.”

"Diminishing trust caused by a lack of connection and empathy.”

"What we are ethically called to do, is create a space in our schools and classrooms where all students can walk in and, for that day or hour, take off the crushing weight of their armor, hang it on a rack, and open their heart to truly being seen. We must be guardians of a space that allows students to breathe and be curious and explore the world and be who they are without suffocation.”

"No trust, no connection.”

"If I share something with you that’s difficult for me, I’d rather you say, “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.” Because in truth, a response can rarely make something better. Connection is what heals.”

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

"It’s simple but transformative: Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

"A brave leader is someone who says I see you. I hear you. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to keep listening and asking questions.”

"Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.”

"Other people’s emotions are not our jobs. We can’t both serve people and try to control their feelings.”

"Shame is not a compass for moral behavior. It’s much more likely to drive destructive, hurtful, immoral, and self-aggrandizing behavior than it is to heal it. Why? Because where shame exists, empathy is almost always absent. That’s what makes shame dangerous. The opposite of experiencing shame is experiencing empathy. The behavior that many of us find so egregious today is more about people being empathyless, not shameless.”

"If you come across an explanation of vulnerability that doesn’t include setting boundaries or being clear on intentions, proceed with caution. Vulnerability for vulnerability’s sake is not effective, useful, or smart.”

"Perfectionism is addictive, because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. Rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to look and do everything just right. Perfectionism actually sets”

"When our organization rewards armoring behaviors like blaming, shaming, cynicism, perfectionism, and emotional stoicism, we can’t expect innovative work. You can’t fully grow and contribute behind armor.”

"Silence is not brave leadership, and silence is not a component of brave cultures.”

"If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I'm not interested in or open to your feedback”

"A brave leader is not someone who is armed with all the answers.”

"Acknowledge and reward great questions and instances of “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out” as daring leadership behaviors. The big shift here is from wanting to “be right” to wanting to “get it right.”

"I define wholeheartedness as “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. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but”

"Confabulation has a really great and subtle definition: a Confabulation is a lie told honestly. To confabulate is to replace missing information with something false that we believe to be true.”

"I’m brave enough to listen. I don’t have to take it all in or add it to my load, but I’m brave enough to listen.”

"If we believe empathy is finite, like pizza, and practicing empathy with someone leaves fewer slices for others, then perhaps comparing levels of suffering would be necessary. Luckily, however, empathy is infinite and renewable. The more you give, the more we all have.”

"In some situations we had to self-protect to stay physically or emotionally safe. Vulnerability is the greatest casualty of trauma. When we’re raised in unsafe environments, confronted with racism, violence, poverty, sexism, homophobia, and pervasive shaming, vulnerability can be life-threatening and armor is safety.”

"Shame is the fear of disconnection—it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection. Here’s the definition of shame that emerged from my research: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.”

"Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame are those who lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.”

"While shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying, guilt is negatively correlated with these outcomes. Empathy and values live in the contours of guilt, which is why it’s a powerful and socially adaptive emotion. When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends, or change a behavior that doesn’t align with our values, guilt—not shame—is most often the driving force.”

"To the conspiratorial mind, shit never just happens.”

"Our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability. Once we start to build vulnerability skills, we can start to develop the other skill sets.”

"Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love. Most of us shame, belittle, and criticize ourselves in ways we’d never think of doing to others.”

"The trickiest barrier to empathy? Take a look in the mirror. Being kind and extending the hypothesis of generosity to ourselves when we mess up is the first step. Resisting the urge to punish or shame ourselves when we make mistakes is true mastery.”

"As crazy as it sounds, many of us will choose to stay in the resentment, disappointment, and frustration that come with believing people aren’t trying rather than face a difficult conversation about real deficits.”

"Assuming positive intent does not mean that we stop helping people set goals or that we stop expecting people to grow and change. It’s a commitment to stop respecting and evaluating people based solely on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing. And when we’re overwhelmed and struggling, it also means turning those positive assumptions toward ourselves: I’m doing the very best I can right now.”

"Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead.”

"We judge in areas where we’re most susceptible to shame, and we judge people who are doing worse than we are in those areas.”

"Connection and inclusion versus busyness and exhaustion.”

"Courage is contagious. To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armor is not necessary or rewarded.”

"Feeding people half-truths or bullshit to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind. Not getting clear with a colleague about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind. Talking about people rather than to them is unkind.”

"Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Prove. Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will people think? Perfectionism is a hustle.”

"The “Okay, I get it and I’ll work on it” is a common shut-down technique. I took a deep breath and leaned into the mother of all rumble tools—curiosity. “Tell me more about how this plays out for y’all. I want to understand.”

"There’s probably not a single act at work that requires more vulnerability than holding people responsible for ethics and values, especially when you’re alone in it or there’s a lot of money, power, or influence at stake. People will put you down, question your intentions, hate you, and sometimes try to discredit you in the process of protecting themselves. So if you don’t ‘do’ vulnerability, and/or you have a culture that thinks vulnerability is weakness, then it’s no wonder that ethical decision making is a problem.”

"Living, growing up, working, or worshipping on eggshells creates huge cracks in our sense of safety and self-worth. Over time, these cracks can be experienced as trauma, whether this happens at work or at home.”

"We need to trust to be vulnerable, and we need to be vulnerable in order to build trust.”

"Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Prove.”

"When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability—it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience. When we can’t tolerate that level of vulnerability, joy actually becomes foreboding, and we immediately move to self-protection. It’s as if we grab vulnerability by the shoulders and say, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker-punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.”

"Trust is the stacking and layering of small moments and reciprocal vulnerability over time. Trust and vulnerability grow together, and to betray one is to destroy both.”

"The irony across all self-protection is that at the same time as we’re worrying about machine learning and artificial intelligence taking jobs and dehumanizing work, we’re intentionally or unintentionally creating cultures that, instead of leveraging the unique gifts of the human heart like vulnerability, empathy, and emotional literacy, are trying to lock those gifts away. There are some things that machines and algorithms do better than us for the simple reasons of computing power, quicker elimination of variables that humans either don’t see or won’t readily dismiss, and the fact that machines have no ego.”

"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and it’s practicing your values, not just professing them.”

"The armor of compliance and control is normally about fear and power. When we come from this place, we often engage in two armored behaviors: We reduce work to tasks and to-dos, then spend our time ensuring that people are doing exactly what we want, how we want it—and then constantly calling them out when they’re doing it wrong. The armor of compliance and control leads us to strip work of its nuance, context, and larger purpose, then push it down for task completion, all while using the fear of “getting caught” as motivation."

"As the theologian Rob Bell explains, “Despair is the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” That is a devastating line.”

"Stayed connected, I stayed courageous, I stayed authentic, I stayed curious,” then that itself is daring, and that in itself is a win.”

"To grow to adulthood as a social species, including humans, is not to become autonomous and solitary, it’s to become the one on whom others can depend.”

"Define calm as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity. Calm is a superpower because it is the balm that heals one of the most prevalent workplace stressors: anxiety.”

"Build a culture of trust.”

"I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential. From”

"I gave him a nervous smile and said “Say more.” Another favorite rumble tool. Asking someone to “say more” often leads to profoundly deeper and more productive rumbling. Context and details matter. Peel the onion. Stephen Covey’s sage advice still stands: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

"Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or, at least, it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of a smart question nobody has yet thought to ask. It disdains the approved pathways, preferring diversions, unplanned excursions, impulsive left turns. In short, curiosity is deviant.”

"We want people to share our commitment to purpose and mission, not to comply because they’re afraid not to. That’s exhausting and unsustainable for everyone. Leaders who work from compliance constantly feel disappointed and resentful, and their teams feel scrutinized."

"The more grounded confidence parents have, the more likely they are to prepare their child for the path by teaching courage, praising effort, and modeling grit, versus trying to prepare a perfect path for their child by fixing, praising only results”

"Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.”

"Help us create a culture of belonging at work.”

"Choosing to own our vulnerability and do it consciously means learning how to rumble with this emotion and understand how it drives our thinking and behavior so we can stay aligned with our values and live in our integrity. Pretending that we don’t do vulnerability means letting fear drive our thinking and behavior without our input or even awareness, which almost always leads to acting out or shutting down.”

"Choose courage, you will absolutely know failure, disappointment, setback, even heartbreak. That’s why we call it courage. That’s why it’s so rare.”

"To turn the brand around, our main job was to build a culture of trust”

"What’s more, according to Brown’s research, play shapes our brain, fosters empathy, helps us navigate complex social groups, and is at the core of creativity and innovation. In some ways, it helps our overheated brain cool down.”

"And when it comes to addiction, employers with successful employee assistance programs report improvements in morale and productivity and decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft. Employers with long-standing programs also report better health status among employees and family members.”

"There's an old saying that I lead by now ""People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

"Power with multiplies individual talents, knowledge, and resources to make a larger impact.”

"The difference between leading from hurt and leading from heart is not what you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing, it’s what you do with that pain and hurt.”

― Quotes from the book Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

Dare to Lead Author

Brené Brown is a captivating storyteller, research professor, and thought leader whose work centers around vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. Her extensive research on human emotions and connections has transformed the way we understand vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness. Through her best-selling books like "Daring Greatly" and her powerful TED Talks, Brown encourages individuals to embrace their imperfections and cultivate authentic relationships by showing up as their true selves. Her message resonates deeply with people from all walks of life, fostering a cultural shift towards embracing vulnerability and building meaningful connections. By blending personal anecdotes with rigorous research, Brené Brown has created a profound impact on individuals and organizations alike, inspiring them to lead with empathy, compassion, and courage.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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