Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, And Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani

Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, And Live Bolder

byReshma Saujani

Hardcover | February 5, 2019

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International Bestseller
Wall Street Journal Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
LA Times Bestseller
Publishers Weekly Bestseller

In a book inspired by her popular TED talk, New York Times bestselling author Reshma Saujani empowers women to embrace imperfection and bravery.


Imagine if you lived without the fear of not being good enough. If you didn''t care how your life looked on Instagram, or worry about what total strangers thought of you. Imagine if you could let go of the guilt, and stop beating yourself up for tiny mistakes. What if, in every decision you faced, you took the bolder path?

Too many of us feel crushed under the weight of our own expectations. We run ourselves ragged trying to please everyone, all the time. We lose sleep ruminating about whether we may have offended someone, pass up opportunities that take us out of our comfort zones, and avoid rejection at all costs.

There''s a reason we act this way, Reshma says. As girls, we were taught to play it safe. Well-meaning parents and teachers praised us for being quiet and polite, urged us to be careful so we didn''t get hurt, and steered us to activities at which we could shine.

As a result, we grew up to be women who are afraid to fail. It''s time to stop letting our fears drown out our dreams and narrow our world, along with our chance at happiness.

By choosing bravery over perfection, we can find the power to claim our voice, to leave behind what makes us unhappy, and go for the things we genuinely, passionately want. Perfection may set us on a path that feels safe, but bravery leads us to the one we''re authentically meant to follow.

In Brave, Not Perfect, Reshma shares powerful insights and practices to help us let go of our need for perfection and make bravery a lifelong habit. By being brave, not perfect, we can all become the authors of our biggest, boldest, and most joyful life.
RESHMA SAUJANI is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology while teaching girls confidence and bravery through coding. A lifelong activist, Reshma was the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. She''s been named a Fortune 40 under 40, a WSJ Mag...
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Title:Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, And Live BolderFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:208 pages, 8.53 X 5.73 X 0.86 inShipping dimensions:208 pages, 8.53 X 5.73 X 0.86 inPublished:February 5, 2019Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1524762334

ISBN - 13:9781524762339

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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Read from the Book

Chapter 1Sugar and Spice and Everything NiceSixteen-year-old Erica is a shining star. The daughter of two prominent professors in Chicago, she is the vice president of her class with an impeccable grade point average. Her report card is peppered with praise from her teachers about her diligence and what a joy she is to have in class. She volunteers twice a month at a local hospital. At the end of sophomore year, she was voted “Best Smile” by her classmates, and her friends will tell you she’s the sweetest person they know.Beneath that bright smile, though, things aren’t quite as sunny. If you open Erica’s journal, you’ll read about how she feels like it’s her full-time job to be perfect in order to make everyone else happy. You’ll learn that she works to the point of exhaustion every night and all weekend to get all A’s and please her parents and teachers; disappointing them is just about the worst thing she can imagine. Once, because of an accidental scheduling mistake, she had to back out of a debate competition at school because it conflicted with a volunteer trip she’d committed to go on with her church; she was so hysterical that her teacher was going to “hate her” that she literally made herself sick.Erica despises volunteering at the hospital (don’t even get her started on emptying the bedpans . . .) but sticks with it because her guidance counselor said it would look good on her college applications. Even though she desperately wanted to try out for cheerleading team because she thought it looked like fun, she didn’t, because her friends told her the jumps were really hard to learn and the last thing she wanted to do was make an idiot of herself. Truth be told, she doesn’t really even like most of her friends, who can be mean and catty, but she just quietly goes along with what they say and do because it’s too scary to imagine doing otherwise.Like so many girls, Erica is hardwired to please everyone, play it safe, and avoid any hint of failure at all costs.I know this story because today, Erica is forty-two and a good friend of mine. She is still supersweet with a dazzling smile—and still a prisoner of her own perfectionism. A successful political consultant with no kids, she works until after midnight most nights to impress her colleagues and overdeliver for her clients. Every time I see her she looks fabulously put together; she’s that friend who always says just the right thing, always sends just the right gift or note, and is always on time. But just like her sixteen-year-old self, she’ll only reveal privately that she still feels strangled by the constant need to please everyone. I asked her recently what she would do if she didn’t care what anyone else thought. She immediately ticked off a list of goals and dreams she wished she had the guts to go after but wouldn’t dare, ranging from telling her biggest client that she disagrees with his strategies to moving out of the city and having a child on her own.Our culture has shaped generations of perfect girls like Erica who grow up to be women afraid to take a chance. Afraid of speaking their minds, of making bold choices, of owning and celebrating their achievements, and of living the life they want to live, without constantly seeking outside approval. In other words: afraid of being brave.From the time they are babies, girls absorb hundreds of daily micromessages telling them that they should be nice, polite, and polished. Adoring parents and caretakers dress them impeccably in color-coordinated outfits, straighten their bows, and tell them how pretty they look. They are praised mightily for being A students and for being helpful, polite, and accommodating and are chided (however lovingly) for being messy, assertive, or loud.Well-meaning parents and educators guide girls toward activities and endeavors they are good at so they can shine, and steer them away from ones they might find frustrating, or worse, at which they could fail. Because we see girls as vulnerable and fragile, we instinctively want to protect them from harm and judgment.Our boys, on the other hand, are given freedom to roam, explore, get dirty, fall down, and yes, fail—all in the name of teaching them to “man up” as early as possible. Even now, for all our social progress, people get a little uncomfortable if a boy is too hesitant, cautious, or vulnerable—let alone sheds a tear. I see this even with my own twenty-first-century feminist husband, who regularly roughhouses with my son to “toughen him up” and tells me to let him cry it out when he’s screaming at night. I once asked him if he would do the same if Shaan were a girl and he immediately responded, “Of course not.”Of course, these beliefs don’t vanish just because we grow up. If anything, the pressure on women to be perfect ramps up as life gets more complex. We go from trying to be perfect students and daughters to perfect professionals, perfect girlfriends, perfect wives, and perfect mommies, hitting the marks we’re supposed to and wondering why we’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and unhappy. Something is just missing. We did everything right, so what went wrong?When you’re writing a book about women and perfectionism, you start to see it everywhere. In airports, at coffee shops, at conferences, at the nail salon . . . ​pretty much anywhere I went, I’d strike up a conversation on the topic and women would invariably sigh or roll their eyes knowingly, nod or laugh in recognition, or get sad as they shared a personal story. They’d tell me how their daily lives are ruled by a relentless inner drive to do everything flawlessly, from curating their Instagram feed to pleasing their partner (or struggling to find the “perfect” partner) to raising all-star kids who are also well adjusted (and who go straight from a year of breastfeeding to eating homemade, organic meals); from staying in shape and looking “good for their age” to striving ceaselessly to be the best in the office, in their congregation or volunteer group or community, in SoulCycle and CrossFit classes, and everywhere else.So many women of all ages opened up to me about unfulfilled life dreams they harbor because they’re too afraid to act on them. Regardless of ethnicity, profession, economic circumstances, or what town they call home, I was struck by how many of their experiences were the same. You’ll hear from many of them throughout this book.But first, I want to show you all the ways the drive to be perfect got ingrained in us. What follows in this chapter is a glimpse into how our perfectionism took root as girls, how it shaped us as women, and how it colored every choice we’ve made along the way. We need to understand how we got here so we can thoughtfully and powerfully navigate our way out. This is the beginning of the road map that leads us out of a life of regret and into one where we fully express who and what we most want to be.The Origins of PerfectionismWhere along the way did we trade in our confidence and courage for approval and acceptance? And why?The categorization of girls as pleasant and agreeable starts almost as soon as they’re born. Instinctually, whether we know it or not, we ascribe certain expectations to infants we see in pink or blue; babies in pink are all sugar and spice, babies in blue are tough little men. But it turns out that we even make these assumptions when there are no other telltale signs of gender. One study showed that when infants are dressed in a neutral color, adults tend to identify the ones who appear upset or angry as boys, and those they described as nice and happy as girls. The training begins before we’re even out of onesies.The drive to be perfect shows up and bravery shuts down somewhere around age eight—right around the time when our inner critic shows up. You know the one I’m talking about: it’s that nitpicking voice in your head that tells you every which way you aren’t as good as others . . . ​that you blew it . . . ​that you should feel guilty or ashamed . . . ​that you fucking suck (I don’t know about yours, but my inner critic can be a bit salty).Catherine Steiner-Adair is a renowned clinical psychologist, school consultant, and research associate at Harvard Medical School. She works with hundreds of girls and young women across the country and has seen firsthand how devastating perfectionism can be.At around the age of eight, she says, kids start to see that ability and agility matter. “That’s the age when girls start to develop different interests, and they want to bond with others who do what they like to do. Along with that awareness of differences comes an inner sense of who and what is better.”This is also the age in which kids are graded, ranked, and told their scores—whether it’s in soccer, math, or music, Steiner-Adair explains. “If you’re told you’re not as good, it requires a great deal of courage and self-esteem to try something. This sets the stage for getting a C means you’re bad at it, and you don’t like it. That feeds the lack of courage.”As girls get older, their radars sharpen. Around this age, they start to tune in when their moms compare themselves to others (“I wish I looked like that in jeans”) or when their moms talk about other girls or women critically (“She should not be wearing that”). Suddenly they’re caught up in this dynamic of comparison, and naturally redirect their radar inward to determine w

Editorial Reviews

“I love this book! A timely message for girls and women of all ages: perfection isn’t just impossible but, worse, insidious.  The prose is so clear, so honest — you feel like you’re sitting across from Reshma sharing stories.” -Angela Duckworth, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania and New York Times Bestselling author of Grit  “The perfect is not just the enemy of the good; the pressure to be perfect is the enemy of girls around the world. In this courageous, convincing book, Reshma Saujani shares a bold vision to free girls—and women—from the shackles of social expectations.” -Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of ORIGINALS, GIVE AND TAKE, and OPTION B with Sheryl Sandberg "For any woman who has ever thought to herself  "I just can''t...” or "I''m just not...," this eye-opening book will help you showing up every day as brave, not perfect changes how the world sees you, but more importantly, how you see yourself - and what you are capable of. This book is great reminder that having the courage to stare your mistakes and your imperfections in the face is one of the most overlooked sources of power." – Amy Cuddy, Harvard lecturer and Bestselling author of Presence