Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Book review written by Latise Hairston

Brown, B. (2017). Rising strong: How the ability to reset transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Random House Inc.
Have you ever experienced pain, failure, heartbreak or any kind of adversity? You’re probably saying, “Who hasn’t?” In any bookstore, you will find a large selection of self-help books on overcoming adversity because life is filled with a plethora of hardships.
 In Rising Strong, Brene Brown focuses on a portion of the quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, The Man in the Arena, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…” Arena moments are any times in our lives when we have “risked showing up and being seen.”
The Rising Strong Process is comprised of 3 parts:
1.     The Reckoning: Walking into our story
2.     The Rumble: Owning our story
3.     The Revolution
Integrating is the engine that moves one through the reckoning, rumble and the revolution. The tools that are used in integration are storytelling and creativity. Creativity is defined as “the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.”

The Reckoning
In Brown’s research she found that people who rise strong are able to reckon with their emotions by first recognizing that “a button has been pushed, something is triggered”. Secondly, they get curious about what is happening and how they are feeling about it. Brown explains that curiosity is correlated with creativity and problem solving.
            So how do we reckon with our emotions? Brown offers three techniques: permission slips, paying attention and tactical breathing. Permission slips are just what they sound like – writing permission slips to feel emotions. Paying attention involves taking deep breaths and becoming mindful of our feelings. Tactical breathing involves breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, breathing out for four seconds, and holding it.

The Rumble
The rumble is where we “own our stories.” First, it is necessary to dive into the uncensored story that we tell ourselves, which means it is probably not accurate. In her research, the people who were able to “rise strong” became aware of the traps of the first stories that they told themselves. Many people become stuck in their negative and harmful stories which Brown calls conspiracies and confabulations.
To capture the first stories Brown says that we need to use the second integration tool – creativity, by writing down our SFD (“shitty first draft” or “stormy first draft”). The SFD is an unedited story, letting it all pour out. It doesn’t have to be a long narrative. It can be written on a post-it note. The intention is to embrace curiosity, awareness and growth.

The Revolution
The revolution involves writing a new ending to our story based on what we have learned during the rumble. Brown explains that the revolution starts with a vision of what is possible. Rather than running from our SFD’s we dig into them knowing they can unlock the fears and doubts that get in the way of our wholeheartedness.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The content was in alignment with my definition of creativity. “Creativity is to push pass the inner voices of limitation and lack; to move toward possibilities and potential and manifest them” (Hairston, Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017).  The ‘person’ that is manifested is the product of a lifelong practice.
Sid Parnes recognized that the way we think and talk about problems prohibits us from seeing them as creative opportunities (Parnes, 1988). We tend to complain and see our problems as static. Parnes believed that rephrasing problems as open-ended questions could encourage the brain to develop new connections (Parnes, 1988). Further, Osborn (1953) said “But even better than painting or any other such hobby is the more strenuous exercise of energetically tackling the causes of our despair, and creatively thinking our way through to serenity”. (p. 53)
            In the world in which we live, we are often socialized by the critics all around us; however the loudest critic often lies within. It says “no” to who we are and can be. We must dare to stand up to ourselves, to move pass the inner critic and listen to the voices of who we were meant to be, what we were meant to do, and the awesome change we were meant to make in the world. This requires vulnerability. It requires daring and intentional living.
Ekut said “if we are to break habit-sets and move into new original way of viewing our problems and challenges, we must find ways to break old mental associations or connections and form new ones” (2014, p. 312). Brene Brown in Rising Strong provides a step by step process with detailed techniques that allows us to examine “the stories we tell ourselves”,  to break the old association and to develop new stories that allow us to rise strong.


Brown, B. (2017). Rising strong: How the ability to reset transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Random House Inc.
Etuk, E. (2014) Creativity: Revealing the truth about human nature. Sarasota, FL: First Edition Design

Osborn, A. F. (1953). Applied imagination: principles and procedures of creative thinking. New York, NY: Scribner.
Parnes, S.J. (1988). Vizionizing. Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation.

Latise Hairston is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of HOPE Consulting. She has held a position at the SUNY College at Buffalo for over 20 years collaborating with organizations to develop creative strategies and products that strengthen, energize and empower customers. Latise holds a M.S. in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy (concentration in Organizational Development), as well as certifications as an International Coaching Federation coach and FourSight facilitator. She is currently completing a M.S. degree in Creativity and Change Leadership at the SUNY College at Buffalo.


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