Brene Brown is my she-ro; she has ventured deeply into the “swampland of the soul,” looked at shame straight in the eye and dared to tell us what she saw. Brown is part of a long line of women who have taught and inspired me with her knowledge and her courage. She wakes us out of our chosen slumber. And if we listen to her wisdom, it will make all of us better women and men, better human beings. She defines concepts so clearly that we can take up the challenge of addressing them in ourselves and in doing so, make the kinds of connections (to people and ideas) that make life work.
Her TED talk on vulnerability in 2010 became an internet sensation with over 9 million views on TED and another 900,000+ on YouTube. She returned to TED, a place she calls a convention of failures (but in a good way! – think about it, she’s absolutely right) in 2012 to talk about another taboo subject. In this talk Brene helps us understand shame’s essence and how it differs from guilt. She tells us how it feels the same for men and women but comes from different sources (an excellent insight for every woman who ever said she wanted her husband to be vulnerable, to not hide his emotions). She tells us that shame needs three things to exist: secrecy, silence, and judgment. And finally, she tells us that empathy is the antidote to shame.
If you’ve ever felt that you weren’t good enough or if you’ve ever heard that small voice in your head say, “who do you think you are,” if you’ve felt overwhelmed or ever feared looking weak, sit back for 20 minutes and learn a bit about “daring greatly” (the title of her most recent book).
When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. Brene Brown