I run outside as much as I can, even in the winter, even in Minnesota. But it was an icy hades out there, and I had nachos and wine the night before, so something needed to happen in the way of exercise.
As I was mentally preparing for a mind numbing run on the treadmill, I scrolled through the recent TED talks and found something called “The Power of Vulnerability.” I had never heard of Brené Brown. Incidentally, I had just recently finished Lost, and I was still a little weepy about that, so I decided that vulnerability was going to work, at least that day.
And for the next twenty-one minutes, I was completely undone.
When it was over, I immediately watched it again.
If you don’t have the twenty-one minutes to watch it, here’s the basic summary: Brené Brown is a shame researcher. Interview after interview, when asking people about connection, she kept getting heartbreaking stories of disconnection & loss.
She found that shame is the thing that unravels connection, every time, and it’s universal. Shame asks: “Is there something about me, that if other people knew it or see it, I wouldn’t be worthy of connection?” Shame is the accusation that you’re not _____ enough (thin, smart, successful, athletic, rich, funny, etc) in order to get the connection that you crave. So you hide and pretend. But the kicker is that in order for connection to happen, you need to really be seen, and if you hide and pretend, you never will be seen.
In her interviews, she also ran into people who were living, in her words, “whole heartedly.” To a person, they each shared the following three characteristics:
Courage. The English word courage comes from the Latin word Cor, which means heart. To be courageous, she says, is “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” Whole hearted people are not necessarily successful and larger than life. They simply have the courage to be imperfect. (My translation: they live their life as is, rather than as if).
Compassion. Whole hearted people have the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others, because it turns out that you can’t be kind to others if you are not kind to yourself. And most of us are simply horrible with ourselves.
Connection. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were, which you have to do in order to really experience connection. This is harder than you think.
And she said that they all fully embraced vulnerability.
Well, those twenty-one minutes sent me on a two year journey of reading The Gifts of Imperfection at least three times, and Daring Greatly twice. I started trying to show up with what actually was in my life, rather than what should be. I noticed in one friendship that I wasn’t saying what I really thought, so I began to do that as kindly as I could. At work, my preaching got less and less polished, but more and more real, I think. At home, when I felt flooded and anxious, I began to (sometimes) stop and say that I was overwhelmed, instead of banging the cupboard doors or retreating into my iPhone. Other times, I went ahead and banged the cupboard doors and retreated into my iPhone.
So I’d like to start a Daring Greatly book club, on Mondays, right here, starting April 8.
Here’s how it will work: You buy Daring Greatly, and read a chapter a week, and I’ll post some thoughts on each chapter, each Monday. Next Monday (April 8), we’ll start with chapter one. And if you don’t buy the book and don’t read the chapter, who cares. Read along anyway. Comment. Share your story. Let’s do this together.
The goal is to help as many people as possible learn to tell the story of who they actually are, with their whole hearts, and show up imperfectly, but show up.
This will be fun. Who’s with me?