Brené Brown referenced at work?

Read Dare to Lead?

Braver friend, or parenting better, because of Brené?

Here, red10 ‘s Lisa Smith explains how Brené Brown has changed her life in so many positive ways and hopes to introduce more people to Brené’s wisdom.

Brené Brown – who is she?

In her own words, “I am a researcher and storyteller and (currently enraged) Texan who’s spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.”

She is a 56-year-old professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host. She is also a five-time #1 New York Times best-selling author of the following books:

Atlas of the Heart

You are Your Best Thing (co-edited with Tarana Burke)

Dare to Lead

Braving the Wilderness

Rising Strong

Daring Greatly

The Gifts of Imperfection

I thought it Was Just Me

What is her message?

There are a couple of famous Brené Brown quotes that sum her work up:

“Stay awkward, brave and kind.”

“Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

She says, “All too often, our so-called strength comes from fear, not love. Instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front, shielding a weak spine.”

Vulnerability stands out for me as her key message and my biggest take-away. Vulnerability means engaging fully and openly with the world around us and having the courage to put ourselves out there.

Why is she always my go to?

Her books and podcasts have influenced how I am at home and work; how I parent; what and how I teach; and my relationship with food and drink. I have learned how to be myself, lean in and step up. She has taught me to be vulnerable and my life has improved in the most wonderful and unexpected ways as a result.

How has she helped me?

In 1990 I went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an officer cadet. The commandant, Major General Peter Graham, gave all cadets a card with six principles of leadership on them. By the end of Week One we had to know them by heart and were asked to recite them throughout the nine-month course. The six principles were:

Pride  | Integrity |  Learning |  Humour Service |  Courage

I had no idea then that courage meant vulnerability – that they are two sides of the same coin. In fact, sometimes I pretended to be someone I wasn’t because there were 800 of us there, most were privately educated (I wasn’t), and I had imposter syndrome (I didn’t know this at the time of course). I didn’t realise fitting in is not the same as belonging. So, I wasn’t always authentic, and I drank a lot. I did well overall and gained my commission – but I do wonder what would have happened if I’d had the courage to really be ME.

In a recent podcast Brené Brown asked: why be vulnerable when armour feels safer? She says many of us ‘armour up’ in our teens to protect ourselves, and can spend the rest of our lives wearing it, or struggling to take it off (if we are even aware of it that is). My armour was alcohol, I was the life and soul of the party in my 20s and 30s and it took me until my 50th birthday to take that armour off and put it down. Brené Brown influenced me to do that: she helped me realise my fear was that I would be boring without it.

How else has my life changed?

Four years ago I was asked to step-in, at the last minute, to cover for my good friend Serena Evans, and deliver red10’s Presenting with Impact Masterclass in London. I had done the masterclass with her a few times, but never on my own, and never in a corporate setting. If I had not read Daring Greatly, I am not sure I would have done this. But I did it, and it has sent my life off on a tangent I could not have imagined. I now work very regularly as a consultant for red10. I have developed a wellbeing programme for them and deliver Influencing Skills Masterclasses.

In all my work I use Brené Brown’s research to help and encourage students and clients become better leaders, colleagues, friends, partners and parents, and to help them move towards a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle.

She has taught me to have those difficult conversations; to step up into work that my inner gremlins say I’m not competent enough to do, and to make lifestyle choices that I really want. I am hugely grateful to her.

Put it this way, if I could have dinner with someone famous, it would be with her, hands down. If she could get her idol Dolly Parton to come too, I would be elated. Here’s a podcast they did together, Songtelling, Empathy, and Shining our Lights. See, dreams do come true!

Still not convinced?

Watch her TEDx talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ – it’s had 57 million views and is in the top five most watched TED Talks of all time.

If you can be true to yourself, lean in and be brave, your life will open up and improve in ways you could not have imagined.