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The Gifts of Imperfection Summary

7 min read ⌚ 

Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

To be or not to be perfect?

That is the question now!

And if you ask Brené Brown, the answer is as straightforward as answers can get:

A resounding “Not to be.”

Because, she says, “The Gifts of Imperfection” are abundant – and you are missing them.

For a very wrong reason.

Who Should Read “The Gifts of Imperfection”? And Why?

Let us ask you a question:

Who are you?

An imperfect but a happy human being, or a perfect one living a life burdened with anxieties?

When you think about it it’s not that bad to be the former, isn’t it?

You’ll find much more in Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” – so start reading it if you want to feel a lot better about not being the perfect person everyone expects you to be.

And if you want to finally start living a meaningful life!

About Brené Brown

Brené BrownBrené Brown is a Research Professor at the University of Houston and the CEO of Brave Leaders Inc.

She has studied the virtues of compassion, humility, vulnerability, and empathy for almost two decades. Because of this, she is widely revered as an expert in the field of human connection.

In addition to “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brown has written three more #1 New York Times Bestsellers: “Daring Greatly,” “Rising Strong,” and “Braving the Wilderness.”

Brown’s 2010 TEDxHouston Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” is one of the Top 5 most viewed TED Talks in history.

“The Gifts of Imperfection PDF Summary”

Do you want to find out, lying on your deathbed, that you’ve lived your whole life the way you didn’t want to?

If the answer is – as we should only expect – “no,” then it’s time for some serious, serious changes.

Because, chances are, you’re currently living a “fake life,” one that’s designed for others much more than it is designed for yourself.

And if you want to change that, you must stop believing that you should be something you are currently not, and you must start thinking that you are enough, the way that you are at the moment.

In “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brené Brown provides you with ten guideposts on your road to embracing your imperfection and, with it, opening your heart for happiness and wholehearted living.

Guidepost #1: Cultivating Authenticity
Letting go of what people think

If you want to start living your life to the max, you must first separate your life from the lives of the others, that is, to quote Margaret Young, “you must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.”

In other words, you must be authentic and true to yourself, because safety (read: more money, a successful career, and a picture-perfect partner – for the sake of them) is overrated.

Simply put, it may not describe your authentic self:

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.

Guidepost #2: Cultivating Self-Compassion
Letting go of perfectionism

First of all, two things: perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best, and it is not self-improvement.

So, what is it?

It is “a self-destructive and addictive belief system” which needs to be overcome.


Because there’s no such thing as perfection and because striving for it always results in feeling some void which shouldn’t be there in the first place.

To overcome perfectionism, practice self-compassion which (according to Dr. Kristin Neff) consists of three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Guidepost #3: Cultivating a Resilient Spirit
Letting go of numbing and powerlessness

Resilient people do several things differently.

However, as we learned from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” possibly the most important among them, the very foundation of resilience, is their spirituality, their belief into something bigger, and the ever-present light at the end of the tunnel.

However, cultivating a hope of this kind should always go hand in hand with critical awareness.

Only that way, you can let go of numbing and powerlessness.

Guidepost #4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy
Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark

Being joyful doesn’t mean that you’re happy all the time.

It merely means that you’re grateful for the happy moments that you have.

Stop looking for more than you need.

The Gifts of Imperfection Summary

Guidepost #5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith
Letting go of the need for certainty

Intuition is not irrational – it’s just another more rapid mode of thinking.

In addition, “faith and reason are not natural enemies.”

It’s just that faith “is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”

And it’s good to be uncertain from time to time.

It’s the very essence of adventure.

Guidepost #6: Cultivating Creativity
Letting go of comparison

Comparison, writes Brown, is “all about conformity and competition.”

In her dictionary, these are not mutually exclusive, but incremental: comparison has the twofold meaning of first fitting in and then standing out!

Creativity, on the other hand, is the expression of authenticity; and it’s the nemesis of comparison.

The great part?

Without comparison, “concepts like ahead or behind or best or worst lose their meaning.”

Guidepost #7: Cultivating Play and Rest
Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth

The last time we checked, dying of exhaustion is something that actually happens in this world.

So often, in fact, that the Japanese – who else? – even have a word for it now: karōshi, i.e., “overwork death.”

Is that the world you like to live in?

Just stop fearing that you’ll miss out on something.

Instead: get some rest and play a game or two with your children.

You’ll feel great afterward!

Guidepost #8: Cultivating Calm and Stillness
Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle

Remember your teachers screaming “Calm down!” or “Sit still!”?

It turns out – these are pretty great advices.

They just communicated them the wrong way.

Which is exactly the point.

Guidepost #9: Cultivating Meaningful Work
Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”

Unless it’s dying or paying taxes, you’re actually not supposed to do anything!

So why should you feel self-doubt, fear, and anxiety because of all these “supposed-to-dos”?

Just don’t!

Kennedy was wrong. Howard Thurman was right:

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Guidepost #10: Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance
Letting go of being cool and “always in control”

We don’t know who actually said it first (Brown says it’s Twain), but whoever it was, he or she was more than right: “Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt and live like it’s heaven on Earth.”

If what’s stopping you from doing these things is the fear of being uncool – then you’re missing out on your life for the wrongest reason imaginable.

Because you know what’s the coolest thing ever?

Living your life!

Key Lessons from “The Gifts of Imperfection”

1.      The 10 Guideposts on Your Way to Wholehearted Living
2.      The 3 Cs of Imperfection
3.      DIG Deep

The 10 Guideposts on Your Way to Wholehearted Living

If you want to stop living a fake life and start experiencing the joy of wholehearted living, it’s essential that you pay some attention to the writing on the wall.

And start…

#1. …letting go of what people think
#2. …letting go of perfectionism
#3. …letting go of numbing and powerlessness
#4. …letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
#5. …letting go of the need for certainty
#6. …letting go of comparison
#7. …letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
#8. …letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
#9. …letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
#10. …letting go of being cool and “always in control”

The 3 Cs of Imperfection

According to Brené Brown the three gifts of imperfection can’t be more perfectly summarized than as a string of 3 Cs: courage, compassion, and connection.

Here she is, giving a detailed explanation of each:


DIG Deep

Whatever you do – or better: whatever you’re letting go – do it by digging deep.


Get deliberate, i.e., be intentional in everything you think and do.

Get inspired, i.e., read a relevant book, see a rousing movie!

And get going!

Don’t overthink it. Just do it!

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Gifts of Imperfection Quotes”

Wholehearted living… 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.’ Click To Tweet Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. Click To Tweet Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis. Click To Tweet I know how much courage it takes to let people hear our hearts speak, but life is way too precious to spend it pretending like we’re super-cool and totally in control when we could be laughing, singing, and dancing. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“The Gifts of Imperfection” is an imperfect book.

Which makes for a perfect reading.

Read it – and you’ll understand why.

(By the way, we couldn’t stop humming “Let It Go” while reading this book.

Join us!)

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