Brené Brown didn’t plan to become this famous. In fact, she resisted anything that would bring her further into the spotlight. She feared the potential repercussions that could come with going big.
After 20 years as a graduate professor and researcher specializing in the study of shame she suddenly found herself on the world stage.
As a specialist studying shame and vulnerability, she knew she had the skills to handle the onslaught of attention from her viral Ted Talk. But the cruelty of the comments on social media challenged even her expertise.
While she was experiencing success on a level most people dream of, her internal feeling was one of panic. Exposure. The pain of her own vulnerability. The spotlight pointed right in her eyes and she flinched.
Until she read this quote…
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…and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...
And she remembered who she is.
Her Netflix special, The Call to Courage is nothing short of brilliant. Brené Brown is like your best teacher, telling stories and inspiring you to do more than you thought you could.
Beware of People in the Cheap Seats
Let’s face it. We all care how we look. Standing up and giving your opinion, doing your best, showing up and giving your all to any project takes a level of bravery. When you create and put yourself out there only to be criticized and cut down for the attempt, it hurts.
But as Dr. Brown points out, what you need to do is get very specific about who you are listening to. Everyone does not deserve to give an opinion on your work. We need to filter that.
“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion because you are being brave, I am not interested in or open to your feedback about my work. Period.” -Brené Brown
There are people who love you, who are intimately involved in your life in a way that makes a difference. They lift you up when you need it. They love you in all your flawed, imperfection. And there are those who do not support you. Those who wait for you to fail so they can say I told you so.
“There are millions of cheap seats in the world today. Filled with people who will never once step foot in that arena. They will never once put themselves out there. But they will make it a full time job to hurl criticism and judgement and really hateful things toward us….You can’t take criticism and feedback from people who are not being brave with their lives.” -Brené Brown
The critics are never those in the arena. They don’t get the asses kicked because they never really try. They son’t love deeply. They just take. They don’t create. They consume. They conform and try to fit in. And they hate when you reach for more and experiment and put yourself out there. Because you just might make it. And then they can’t keep you small.
Happy People All Do This One Thing
Guess what her research showed was the most vulnerable emotion?
Yes, joy. I was shocked. The thing we fear the most is being happy. We hedge against joy. We prevent it. Her example was simple and every parent has experienced it.
“We are terrified to feel joy. We think if we experience true happiness something will come along and rip it away from us. So we prepare for tragedy.” -Brené Brown
You look at your beautiful newborn baby and are glowing with love. But instead of staying in that blissful moment, you have a fearful thought. What if something happens to this perfect baby?
Dr. Brown describes it as “rehearsing tragedy” and it is extremely common. But there is a cure. Those people who managed to really find true happiness in life all shared this one practice.
Gratitude. Being grateful for the wonderful elements of your life was the one simple solution that brought more joy and more fulfillment.
It Isn’t Brave if You Aren’t Scared
There is a moment when we get to decide. We all are faced with a moment of choice where we can show up and go for it or shrink back and hide. We have that moment in love. We have that moment in our careers. We have that moment in competition.
When we turn away, the walls go up. I didn’t want that anyway. That’s why I didn’t show up. But the path to a lonely, unfulfilled life is paved with moments of not showing up.
To love is to be vulnerable. I know this could hurt so bad, but I am willing to be vulnerable and love you. And there are an increasing number of people in the world today who are not willing to take that risk. They would rather never know love than to know hurt or grief. -Brené Brown
Do you really want to live a life less than the one you deserve? So often we settle for things we don’t want so that we can mitigate our pain if they go away. I never liked that job anyway. That relationship was never great so who cares that it is over.
“I have never met a single person in twenty years who had a joyful wholehearted life who was miserable at work.” -Brené Brown
You can’t do what you hate and be happy. You can’t fill your life with unhealthy relationships and be happy. It does not work that way.
We protect ourselves from joy to protect ourselves from pain. But that only guarantees a life of mediocrity. We guarantee our own pain.
Dr. Brown dares us to show up. To lean all the way in. Because, after all, that is where your greatness lies.