She spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and has authored five #1 New York Times best sellers. Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong and to brave the wilderness. What Brown does, is talk about the topics we’re not really meant to; vulnerability, fear, shame and failure. And, she talks about them with tens of millions of people.
Her career began a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she focused on authenti leadership and wholeheartedness within families, schools, and organisations. These days, Brown is all about stepping out into the metaphorical ‘arena’ and backing yourself. She explores the toxic stories we tell ourselves, and what it really means to fail. Her work has transformed lives all over the world.
With her TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability, being one of the top five most watched TED talks in the world, Brown is quickly becoming a major influencer and an authority on peoples gifts of imperfection, which happens to be the title of one of her best-selling books.
Adding to her collection of published books, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, her latest bestseller, Dare to Lead, has been a culmination of a seven-year study on the future of leadership.
Spending the past two decades researching the emotions that give meaning to our lives, Brene discovered that leaders in organisations ranging from small entrepreneurial start-ups and family-owned businesses to non-profits, civic organisations and Fortune 50 companies, are all asking the same questions:
How can we cultivate braver, more daring leaders? And, how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?
This lead her to write Dare To Lead. Using her research conducted with leaders, change makers and culture shifters, Brene shows us how to put ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.
“Courage is contagious, even when there are hard endings.”
Brene writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that courage can be taught, developed and measured. Courage is a collection of four skill sets supported by twenty-eight behaviours. All it requires is a commitment to doing bold work, having tough conversations and showing up with our whole hearts. Easy? No. Choosing courage over comfort is not easy. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and work. It’s why we’re here.”
Brene’s new book teaches us that leadership is not about titles, status and power over people. Leaders are people who hold themselves accountable for recognising the potential in people and ideas, and developing that potential.
She explains, on brenebrown.com how we protect ourselves from our vulnerabilities, and we become fearful and more disconnected, saying “I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore … embrace the suck.” Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enables us to be fully engaged and open to the world that surrounds us.
It is truly courageous to put ourselves out there and embrace our vulnerability. Being open, despite knowing we could get hurt, we can truly experience joyful moments in our lives.
Brene believes in living wholeheartedly – Meaning that at the end of the day, no matter what you manage to do and what you don’t, you are enough. It means that even though you know you are imperfect and sometimes afraid, you are also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
These “The Gifts of Imperfection” tell us what we must cultivate to embrace wholeheartedness and vulnerability:
- Authenticity and let go of what people think
- Self compassion and let go of perfectionism
- Resiliency and let go of numbing and powerlessness
- Gratitude and Joy and let go of scarcity
- Trust and Faith and let go of the need for certainty
- Creativity and let go of comparison
- Play and Rest and let go of “busy” and “stress” as self-worth and status symbol
- Calmness and let go of anxiety
- Meaningful work and let go of what you are “supposed” to do
- Laughter, Song and Dance and let go of “cool” and “always in control”
“Joy is vulnerable – that’s why we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Don’t squander joyful moments by waiting for the other shoe to drop. Lean in and practice gratitude,” Brene says.
“I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is ‘Courage over comfort’,” she says. “Courage is contagious, even when there are hard endings.”
Daring leadership in our culture, which is so defined by fear and uncertainty, requires building courage skills. The irony is, we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of our leaders. So, what can we do better? Brown says we must increase our empathy, connection and courage.
“Offering help is courageous and compassionate, but so is asking for help,” she says.
“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.” – Brene Brown