Brene Brown, research professor and best-selling author, is an expert on shame and relationships. At the Summit, she brought us a brave conversation on the vulnerability and courage to face our stories.
Here are my three favorite things Brene Brown said:
1. Stories we tell ourselves
Our brain is neurologically wired to make up a story about what’s happening. We recognize the narrative pattern of story. If we give ourselves a story in the moment, it rewards us chemically, but it rewards us whether it’s accurate or not.
What stories are playing in your mind?
Sometimes we end up in a “perfect shame storm” where the stories we tell ourselves crash into the stories another tells him or herself. Brown calls this “the Middle Space” where we’re stuck, but we’ve gone too far to turn around. We can only go forward, but we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. What people do in that dark space separates the leaders from the non-leaders. Brown says it’s what you do in the dark that forms leadership and courage.
2. “The reckoning, the rumble and the revolution”
We must reckon with emotion. When we’re “triggered” are we willing to be curious, lean in and do something about it? Transformational leaders do discomfort and have absolute emotional awareness of their lives and others.
Leaders rumble with hard topics. We must be willing to walk in and be brave and rumble with what’s true and hard. “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, we cannot have both.”
Finally, we have revolution. Our worthiness as people lives inside these stories. “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write our own endings.”
3. A case for courage
Brown ends with the thought, “Courage is uncomfortable, that’s why it’s rare.” She says, “The bravest among us will always be the most brokenhearted because we have the courage to love. Those who have the courage to care and engage will always be disappointed. Those of us willing to be creative and innovated will know failure… If you are brave enough, often enough, you are going to fail. There is nothing more dangerous to the critics and the cynics than for us to find a way back up.”