Each year our Center has a theme that influences our FORUM topics and peer group emphasis. Our theme this year is “Whole-Hearted Leadership”. We encourage all our members to read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, a book about feeling worthy and the power of vulnerability.

Our Peer Groups spend time discussing the book and how it might impact their leadership in the family business. In this blog series we wanted to offer those of you who haven’t read the book a summary of each chapter with a few questions to reflect on. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 | Scarcity: Looking Inside our Culture of “Never Enough”

Some think we’ve turned into a culture of narcissists who feel entitled and superior. How do we feel around people who have a pervasive need for attention, a grandiose view of themselves, and a lack of empathy? Our first thought is often to “cut them down to size.” We think those people need to learn they’re not that special, that they need to get over themselves. But here’s where it gets tricky.

Most people who do act that way do so out of shame. In fact, they are slaves to shame. Narcissistic tendencies aren’t cured by reminding people of their inadequacies, but through vulnerability. “For example, when I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose…I see the cultural message everywhere that says an ordinary life is a meaningless life” (page 22).

Consider these questions:
1. What messages do we hear from our culture that influence our behavior?

2. How do we behave to protect ourselves?

3. How do we emote in order to feel worthy?

One factor in us talking about ourselves so highly is comparison. When we constantly compare our lives to our incomplete projection of other people, the fantasy of media, or emotions of nostalgia (how good it used to be) we inherit a sense of lacking. We are “never enough” to live up to those false realities. And make no bones about it, they are false.

Importantly, the counter-approach to scarcity and comparison isn’t abundance. Vulnerability and worthiness, two components of wholeheartedness, lie in stark contrast to scarcity. “Facing uncertainty and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough” (page 29) is a difficult task for many. “The greatest casualties of a scarcity culture are our willingness to own our vulnerabilities and our ability to engage with the world from a place of worthiness” (page 29).


• Describe a conversation you’ve had in this group that reflected worth and vulnerability.

• Describe an interaction with a family member or employee where you were defending yourself rather than being vulnerable.

• Where in your life do you compare yourself to others? What effects does it have?

Visit our Events Page and register to attend one or all of of Fall FORUMs where we will continue the conversation with other business families!

Jared Byas

Jared Byas

Partner, Family Business Advisor

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