Brown: embrace your vulnerability

People who feel they are ‘good enough’ have in common an ability to feel and give love, to be vulnerable, to do creative things – and to take rest and play at least as seriously as they do work, said Brené Brown at the ICF conference.
Brown carried out research to discover what allowed people to be ‘wholehearted’ (‘loving with their whole hearts’). She was surprised to find that a deep sense of love is the only variable in what allows people to feel they are ‘enough’.
“This drove me crazy. I thought how can this be the only difference? I thought, maybe their lives just turned out better, but no they didn’t have fewer divorces and bankruptcies. These were folks whose worthiness wasn’t negotiable,” said Brown.
“Love is the game-changer,” she said. Later in the conference, Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of charity Kids Company, said love is all that matters.
Brown said it was about making different choices every day of their lives.
“They actively chose rest and play over exhaustion and status symbols. Every single one practised some kind of creativity. I used to see this kind of behaviour as self-indulgent and flaky, then I realised there are no creative and non-creative people; there are [only] those who utilise it and those who don’t. And if you don’t, it metastasises.”
Being vulnerable in our culture of scarcity takes tremendous courage, and it is emotional danger we fear, she said. We hate vulnerability – the “centre of the dark emotions we want to avoid: shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, uncertainty.
“So we armour up: ‘you’re not to see me, you’re not going to hurt me.’ The problem is that vulnerability is also the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, curiosity, gratitude, accountability and adaptability.”
She highlighted four myths around vulnerability: that it’s a weakness, that ‘I can opt out’, ‘let it all hang out’ and ‘I can go it alone’.
“In 12 years of research and 11,000 pieces of data, I can’t find a single example of courage that is not vulnerable… To show up and be seen and walk into the arena with no guarantee is not weakness.”

Coaching at work, Volume 7, issue 6

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