I like to think of myself as a brave person. I’ll jump out of planes and I’ll take my first trip overseas to Kathmandu. I like to dive headfirst into new experiences. So when I quit my nine-to-five to freelance, followed by teaming up with Tara to start Braid Creative, I knew it’d be a little scary but I figured it would be just another act of courage to ride out. But I had no idea the kind of uncertainty and fear that comes with the bold act of asking people to pay you money to live what you love. It stirred up all these emotions of worthiness-doubt that my ever-worthy-youngest-child-self didn’t know I was capable of.
This has led us to hiring a life coach, taking up a daily meditation practice, and reading lots and lots of self-help books. The most recent one being a signed copy of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown that I received while at Mighty Summit this past fall.
I first became familiar with Brené Brown when I watched her Ted talk (gone viral) on vulnerability. In just 20 minutes Brown shifted my entire perspective on connection, authenticity, vulnerability and shame. I drank the “live a-whole-hearted-life” kool-aid and sent the video to everyone I knew.
What’s so cool about Brené Brown is she comes off as a total Generation X cynic who was going about her research (like… twelve years of serious methodical research) and surprised even herself by what she found – which was this kind of optimistic conclusion in living whole heartedly. She trusted the process and uncovered a hidden path to living an authentic life through courage, connection and engaging with our whole hearts. The messages in her book could easily come across as touchy-feely and flighty, but Brown’s writing is grounded in this place where that serious research meets personal experience – and you trust every word she says. It’s pretty much a must-read for creative entrepreneurs who sometimes struggle with the anxiety (almost like stage fright) of showing up and being seen.
Daring Greatly is one of those books where you end up tabbing every page, highlighting every word and can’t stop yourself from making urgent notes in all the margins. But if I had to narrow it down greatest takeaways I received from Daring Greatly they would be:
1. While we’re inspired by others who live vulnerable lives we often recognize that very same quality of vulnerability in ourselves as weakness. For example, it’s so easy to cheer on other creative entrepreneurs who take big leaps, or other bloggers who open up and share the whole story, or other artists who paint their lives out on the canvas. We see these guys as being courageous – but to make those bold leaps a part of our own story… well, that just feels too darn scary. Those other guys are scared too – but it’s embracing and leveraging that vulnerability that makes them brave enough to live wholeheartedly.
2. Our inner critic that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, [fill in the blank] enough is a gremlin. Brené Brown tells you to literally imagine it as a gremlin from Steven Spielberg’s 1980s hit appropriately titled Gremlins. She says if you can identify this “not enough” feeling, and literally wrap words around that sneaky and self-sabotaging gremlin – then your negative internal dialogue loses its power and withers away. Because just like getting a gremlin wet, keeping quiet about your insecurities will only make them multiply. But speaking the words out loud, even just acknowledging those unproductive feelings, are the bright light that keeps the gremlins at bay.
3. Living a life of authenticity and embracing vulnerability is not the same as letting it all hang out like a total spaz. Being wholehearted is about having the courage to reach out and connect – and leaning into the discomfort of difficult emotions that comes from things like… you know… starting your own creative business while raising two young kids. So don’t necessarily go wrapping words around those gremlins on your Facebook page or at the checkout line at the grocery store. It’s a balancing act for me – especially on my personal blog. I like to ask myself a few questions when I want to “keep it real” but don’t want to run the risk of what Brown calls “floodlighting” my audience with a bomb of insecurity when I post about the more vulnerable topics. The questions are as follows:
• Will this story help someone else?
• What did I learn from this experience?
• Am I still working through it? (If so I probably need to talk it through with someone who has deserved my trust before posting it on the internet)
• If I get positive comments will it affect the way I feel? If I get negative comments will it affect the way I feel?
Brené Brown makes a compelling call to show up and be seen. To get in the arena and dare greatly.
Have you read Daring Greatly? If so, which part most resonated with you? How are you daring greatly? Let us know on Facebook.