Brene Brown is a most unusual person.
- A best selling author with a Ted Talk that has attracted more than 10 million views.
- An academic with the ability to transfix and involve an audience of laypeople.
- A self-confessed introvert who travels the world and speaks with huge audiences of people.
- A researcher who has studied the topics of shame and vulnerability and brought them out of the dark corners of our minds and placed them firmly in the public eye to be considered and discussed without fear.
I discovered “The Gifts of Imperfection” late last year and was immediately captivated by her powerful message – that you can let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and instead, embrace who you really are. What a concept!
I quickly moved on to “I thought it was just me” and my identification continued. I can accept myself warts and all? I can bring into the light those parts of me that I believed were definitely best kept secret and hidden away? Wow. That was going to take a little bit of courage. Ah yes, courage – the true definition of vulnerability as Brene tells us. Vulnerability sounds like weakness, but it certainly looks like courage when we see it in action.
So, when her latest book “Daring Greatly” was released, I was on Amazon within moments ordering my copy to wing its way across to Australia. And when I found out that she was on a short speaking tour of Australia, I was excited like a 10-year-old off to Disney Fan Fest (as my daughter was in the weekend!) and also had four of my friends join me.
What an experience.
Yes, I may have read all her books, completed her online course on Sounds True and watched her Ted Talk (at least three times) but nothing beats the power of receiving the message of you are enough right in front of you. To hear that it’s about owning your own story and that if we choose to orphan parts of ourselves that will get in the way of being loved, connected and accepted at a deep level.
So, for those of you who are new to Brene, here is a brief overview of the presentation.
We live in a world that communicates scarcity, and this predisposes us to fear. From the moment we wake up in the morning when we think “I haven’t had enough sleep” to the moment when we go to bed at night and think “I didn’t get enough done today”….This attitude of scarcity is pervasive and leads to the feeling of “never _________________ enough”.
You can fill in the gap with whatever your particular inner critic tells you!
This leads to shame – the belief that we are not good enough coupled with the message of “who do you think you are?” (for daring to step out of your box).
In contrast, Brene found that people living wholeheartedly have a feeling of love and belonging, a sense of intrinsic worthiness and an openness to being vulnerable, to let themselves dare greatly – to show up and be seen, to risk with no guarantees. Because to “fail” at something does not mean they themselves have failed….
A vital differentiator. And one that further brings home the point that vulnerability is courageous. If we want wholeheartedness, we need to be prepared to risk brokenheartedness. But more good news – when we do, we develop hope. We know what adversity feels like and we know that we can get through it.
Dust ourselves off and prepare for another day.
Let go of comparison
As a part of this Brene encourages us to choose creativity over comparison. There are not creative and non-creative people. There are simply people who choose to exercise their creativity and those who choose not to. So play, explore, immerse yourself in what is creative for you – that can range all over the place, there are no parameters here. Painting, cooking, teaching, photography, pottery, cycling, flower arranging, training and facilitating – who knows what it is for you – but it is your job to find out…..
And when you do, don’t be afraid of other peoples opinions. Brene has a fabulous idea – grab a wee piece of paper and place on this the names of those people in your life whose opinions really matter to you, the ones that at the end of the day, really are important. Perhaps that’s your partner, your children, your closest most trusted friends. Carry it with you. It’s a powerful reminder of what really matters in life, especially at times when you have dared greatly, but the end result is not exactly as you might have liked it to be….
She told us – “you are NOT the jackass whisperer – it is not your job to win over everyone”.
Loved that! Her mantra is:
“Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up, Stay in your sacred space”.
I believe that is possible when we live and work in alignment. When we are connected with our values and the way we show up in the world reflects these. If we know what we stand for, we can stay grounded in that sacred space and there will be congruence between who we are, what we do and what we say. We can dare greatly without “fear of failure” because there is no scarcity and we are enough for ourselves and for the people who matter to us.
That’s what living wholeheartedly feels like. It’s like a long exhale. And it feels fabulous.
Pause now and consider:
- Does the scarcity mentality impact you?
- Are you open to vulnerability – can you see how it is actually courageous, not weakness?
- Are you ready to own your story, no parts orphaned anymore?
As Brene says “To live in the light we must first walk through the darkness”. None of us is alone on this journey if we can find the courage to be vulnerable and share our experiences.
The Man in the arena (the inspiration for Daring Greatly)
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”. Theodore Roosevelt
I’m going to dare greatly in my next chapter. You too?