You might know Brene Brown from Oprah’s Super Soul Saturday. Oprah Winfrey’s soul mate, after promoting gratitude, she now promotes vulnerability. And if you are like me, you don’t feel at ease displaying your vulnerability. I remember getting fired after sending out an email that said: “please give me something to do”. And I also remember how embarrassed I felt when a next door neighbor started to tell me intimate facts about her wedding. So what is to gain from being vulnerable? if you are vulnerable, you dare greatly. And if you dare greatly, you will get results you could not even imagine.
Brene Brown Key #1: enter into the Arena
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.
So Brene Brown wants us to get up and spend our lives dedicated to our great devotions. OK, Brene, I am in. So how do we make that happen?
BRENE BROWN KEY #2: stop perfectionism
Perfectionism is a harmful and addictive belief system, based on the following rationale: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can reduce, prevent or minimize the painful feelings that cause embarrassment, censure and blame.
I know perfectionism like an evil twin brother. I always want to do everything perfect. It is a shame that Brene Brown, after giving rather standard advice like “accept yourself the way you are” does not wonder if perfectionism is not simply a trait that is inherited. Researcher Dr Jason Moser suggested in his research that perfectionism has a genetic aspect. But acknowledging your own perfectionism certainly helps you to deal with it.
Brene Brown appeals to me when she pairs a lack of creativity with perfectionism. Artist Nicolas Wilton says: “The world can be put into boxes that are carefully labeled. But there is always stuff left that does not belong to any box. If you put that stuff into one big box, you can label it “ART”.
It seems to me that art alongside all the other neat categories most closely resembles how it is to be human. To have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that are not always logical.
BRENE BROWN KEY #3: adjust our education
As a teacher, Brene Brown advocates getting shame out of the way in our coping with work and education. We have gotten used to being judged at work. Once a year we hear what is wrong with us and what we have to achieve to function better. We have gotten used to talking about our children with their teachers, discussing the ways that they do not live up to the average standard. We like to pull a B up to an A level instead of celebrating the B.
There are things you can do to change the situation. Little steps include:
- Go and sit next to somebody in a meeting at work or at school, literally and figuratively.
- Listen, and ask questions. Acknowledge that you do not get the full picture yet.
- Express your appreciation the strengths of your conversation partner.
- Take responsibility for your own actions.