Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

To Dare or Not to Dare…. That is the Question

Written by: on April 18, 2024

I am a Brené Brown fan.  Anyone who has the courage to talk about shame and vulnerability deserves respect.  In fact, I am a big enough fan that as I was looking for what’s next for me prior to this Doctorate I was seriously considering getting a daring greatly coaching certificate through her business. I’m glad I’m here, in this program and feel like I’ve come full circle to end this semester with Brown’s book Dare to Lead: Brave work, Tough conversations, whole hearts.


Fairly early in my leadership in my current organization we decided as a leadership team to read this book together and work through the companion workbook.  Let me say it did not go well.  Not everyone has the courage and bravery to discuss shame and vulnerability in order to get to the other side of courageous and a different kind of Leadership.  I was thrilled, but in order to get to this place of trust, we all got stuck on exercise 2 of her workbook.  The Question we needed to answer was “Container Building”[1].  We needed to answer on sticky notes the following questions: “What do you need to show up and do the work? What will get in the way of you showing up and doing the work? and What does support look like?” A few of my colleagues struggled with respecting this exercise for others.  One of my colleagues said for her to show up and be vulnerable she needed others to show up and to listen.  Right after this, someone got an “important” phone call, left to answer then came bounding back into the group talking and interrupting right as this person was sharing.  This was the beginning of the break down, someone’s needs were trampled on the first go!  I believe in this group we only got through introduction and exercise one of Rumbling with vulnerability and it all crumbled.  One of her exercises was “What stands in the way becomes the way”.[2]  Not everyone dares to lead in a courageous way, this was a lesson learned. While this may not be a very academic rigorous book, I believe, if we truly take her words to heart as leaders, it’s perhaps the most difficult of all our readings to live into, as it requires the courage to tap into our own shame and vulnerability.

The 4 E’s

My NPO is on having courageous and soulful conversations around end-of-life.  As I’ve worked through my prototypes, I have come to realize I can teach others to have these conversations utilizing 4 E’s: Empathy, Exploration, Education and Empower.  Dare to Lead also begins with empathy.


“Empathy is one of the linchpins of cultures built on connection and trust-it’s also an essential ingredient for teams who take risks and show up for rumbles.”[3]  Why would anyone jump into a deeper conversation or relationship with anyone who cannot show empathy in an authentic way, and in turn, also express vulnerability?  I worry that our social media culture is slowly or quickly pulling our children away from authenticity and vulnerability and decaying their (our) ability to listen with empathic ears.  How quickly do we all jump to judgement.  This leads to the next E:


“When the going gets rough, turn to inquiry and wonder”[4].  I have used Parker Palmer’s circle of trust before within this format and once again will post a link to his website in footnotes, but this encapsulates so much for me the need be non-judgmental and curious. [5] One of my teachers in Celtic Christianity talked about how important it is to be and explorer and not a detective.  As we dare to lead, we must be curious not only about our organizations and those we lead, but we must be curious about ourselves.  Our teacher Jason Clark quoted to us our first year in Cape Town South Africa “the greater the island of our knowledge grows, so does the shore of ignorance.”  This feeds into the audacity we all have at this point to explore more about what we think we know and want to put out into the world.  Our own process has forced and nudged and encouraged us to continue to be curious about our projects, about who are stakeholders are, and what need, problem and/or opportunity we have to fill in the gap!  “We aren’t curious about something we are unaware of or know nothing about”.[6]  Play explorer: ask more questions, don’t be a detective who thinks they already have the answer and look only for evidence to prove themselves right!  This exploration leads to:


We need to continue to walk along the shore of our ignorance!  This semester is proof of that for me, there is so much I’ve learned that I need to explore more of, such as AI, cancel culture and identity, to name a few I feel compelled to explore.  While we were in Oxford, the student who took us on a tour told us that what mattered most in getting into Oxford was to be able to answer the question “what are you reading? And what has that compelled you to read next?”.  Oxford doesn’t want cookie cutter students who passed what the country has determined to be the standard core of knowledge (although I’m sure that’s a given) they want to know what kind of student you are of the world and of yourself and do you have the courage to Dare to step into new learnings on your own without a syllabus telling you to do so.  I have been convicted of that thought and it has ruminated in my soul all year.  Walk the shore of your own ignorance…often.


As Brown’s book implies, it takes Daring to lead this way.  To lead through vulnerability and understanding how shame, undealt with, will absolutely be what drives our leadership.  What if we took from Brené’s book the courage to truly be vulnerable and wrestle with our own shame, so that we may empower others to do the same!  What a change that could be for ourselves, our organizations and the world.  This book is hard!

[1] Brown, Brené. Who we are is how we lead workbook.(London, Penguin House, 2018) Pg 5

[2] Brown, Brené., pg 6

[3] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave work, Tough conversatios, Whole hearts. (London, Penguin Press, 2018). 136

[4] Palmer, Parker. A Hidden Wholeness: the Journey Toward an Undivided Life. (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2004) 218

[5] https://couragerenewal.org/courage-renewal-approach/

[6] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave work, Tough conversatios, Whole hearts. (London, Penguin Press, 2018). 174

About the Author


Jana Dluehosh

Jana serves as a Spiritual Care Supervisor for Signature Hospice in Portland, OR. She chairs the corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee as well as presents and consults with chronically ill patients on addressing Quality of Life versus and alongside Medical treatment. She has trained as a World Religions and Enneagram Spiritual Director through an Anam Cara apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living center in Bend, OR. Jana utilizes a Celtic Spirituality approach toward life as a way to find common ground with diverse populations and faith traditions. She has mentored nursing students for several years at the University of Portland in a class called Theological Perspectives on Suffering and Death, and has taught in the Graduate Counseling program at Portland Seminary in the Trauma Certificate program on Grief.

6 responses to “To Dare or Not to Dare…. That is the Question”

  1. mm John Fehlen says:

    Ok. Ok. I’m now a fan too.

    You were right. I was wrong.

    You win.


    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Am I reading this correctly…are my eyes deceiving me.

      I am so glad that you are now a fan. You made the right decision, my friend! : )

  2. mm Tim Clark says:

    Interesting how diametrically opposed Brene Brown and Edwin Friedman can seem. One says empathy is vital to good leadership and the other suggests empathy is toxic.

    Which underscores the need to read and explore widely, find what we can learn and apply, and don’t uncritically buy everything someone says.

    But after reading both, while I still appreciate Friedman, my money is on Brown. I’m with John, this book converted me.

    You talk about being an explorer not a detective. I love that. One of my points in my syntopical essay was that as a leader I don’t want to be a map maker for others but a fellow traveler and explorer as they make their own maps.

    Jana, you are a true gift to our cohort, our peer group and to me. I honestly can’t imagine this program without you in it. I’m so glad it’s not just a bunch of pastors or even people on the same journey. You have taught me a lot through your posts and conversations and I’m looking forward to the next year.

    See you in DC!

  3. Cathy Glei says:

    Love the connections between your work, the four E’s, and Brene Brown’s work. I appreciate your work with people talking about end-of-life. I imagine the many opportunities you have to minister to people when the end of the “dash” is near. Have a great summer! Looking forward to connecting in DC!!

  4. Adam Harris says:

    Great posts, and I know that had to be frustrating for your co-worker when that to happened. Moments like those can break the momentum, but knowing you, I bet you are bridging some gaps and helping set the tone. It’s exciting that you are nailing down your NPO prototype! Can’t wait to hear about it in DC!

  5. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Jana!

    Your post is brilliant and enlightening!

    You wrote, “I worry that our social media culture is slowly or quickly pulling our children away from authenticity and vulnerability and decaying their (our) ability to listen with empathic ears. How quickly do we all jump to judgment.”

    I resonate with your thoughts. Gadgets and social media have eroded the norms, ethics, and even faith of Generation Z, and I worry, Alpha too. The symptoms are becoming more visible.
    My question is, how to teach Generation Z and Alpha about sincere empathy, without having to judge or dictate to them?

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