I saw Brene was coming to Sydney town. I didn’t know much about her, but I’d heard her name, heard she knew a heap about vulnerability, and thought it’d be a perfect event for my crew from The Grow Project and I to take a chance on. I booked the tickets, emailed the crew, and off we went. And what a brilliant chance take. We had the good fortune of seeing Brené Brown present ‘Rising Strong’ at the State Theatre in Association with the clever crew from The School of Life (and tens of thousands of other clever Sydney-siders too).

It turns out, plenty of people knew exactly who Brene was, and had read many of her amazing books, and for good reason – she’s the most amazing social researcher I’ve ever come across, and she knows how to make her research incredibly powerful and practical in two very important areas of life – business and parenthood.

There was a host of lessons and introspective questions I took away from the evening, and I’ve rattled those off far below to give you a flavour of what I took away with me. Overall though, there were two two key reminders for me.

Firstly, the power of books on mindset, choices, and energy. I was a late bloomer in getting into reading books in adult life (having spent too much time reading books at uni, I think!), so I think now I’m making up for lost time. I now read both paper and audio books, depending on the content, what I’m looking to get out of it, and how quickly I want to read it. Since seeing Brene on stage, I have since started reading her bestselling book ‘Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead’ (via Audible’s audiobook service). It’s a truely brilliant book, and really energising, because it encourages you to make your own choices – whatever they may be – and own them.

It talks about what holds us back, and how much of this is actually our mindset, both about the past and future as well as the all important present. She covers topics such as authenticity, resilience, creativity, rest, play and laughter, as well as the all important vulnerability. She encourages you throughout the book to dare greatly, and says that ‘sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support’. She also talks about what gets in the way of being daring and vulnerable, and covers the topic of shame extensively. ‘Shame loves perfectionists’, she says, ‘it’s so easy to keep them quiet’.

I personally get a lot of energy and perspective from a focused mind, and a mindset which has been influenced by conscious choices. I love that books remind me of my choices, help me reflect in a very practical manner on my choices, and inform new choices I make for myself. I love books for this. If your mindset is running away from you, your choices feel constrained, or your energy is just zapped, perhaps a book might serve you well.

Secondly, I was reminded of the power of attending a live event with others and especially team members. Feeling the power of the evening set in, and then creating the space to discuss the content and the key takeaways individuals took from it afterwards, was absolutely invaluable. We each enjoyed sitting and listening to Brene with our own lenses of life experience and current challenges on, and for me, I equally enjoyed the conversation together afterwards where those thoughts, experiences, and challenges were vocalised from the often fast spinning mind and shared with each other (and the cups of tea and hoc chocolate we sipped).

If you ever get a chance to see her speak, jump in – I guarantee you’ll get something valuable from it. Below are my other short takeaways, in case they spark something in you.

  • Choices – courage over comfort. Are you willing to choose courage over comfort?
  • Plan an exit. Always have a plan, always have an exit strategy.
  • Living in the arena. 
    • When you live life in the arena, everyone falls. You will.
    • If you’re not in the arena, I can’t be open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the arena, hurling feedback from the stalls. And it hurts. It’s important that it hurts. You’re wired to connect and if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not alive.
  • Courage to show up. You have to be willing to show up, even when you don’t know the outcome.
  • Who really matters? Get a one inch square of paper and write down the names of everyone whose opinion actually matters to you. When you’re copping feedback from the back stalls, get your piece of paper out and remind yourself who really matters.
  • The story of struggle. When you’re struggling, your emotions get the first crack at making sense of it. Our brains love a story and if we give it one, we are rewarded chemically regardless of the accuracy of the story. We’re emotional beings who, on occasion, think.
  • Behaviour choices. If we want to change our behaviour, we need to change our emotion.
  • Just breathe. The topic of breathing arising again and again and again. The military teaches tactical breathing, which is the same as yoga breathing! (In for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four), and many other modalities. Just breathing can make all the difference in the world to your life.
  • Happiness and joy. Happiness is circumstantial – joy is internal.
  • No. Saying ‘no’ or doing nothing is brave; you will be judged and criticised.
  • The importance of ‘be-ing’. As a parent, be the adult you want your child to be. It’s less about what you know and more about who you want them to be. You can’t give your children what you don’t have.
  • Talking throughout your journey. There is immense power in talking throughout the journey of the fall. The research demonstrates that the physiological response to an emotional fall is the same response as a trauma. Sit in the emotion, recognise it, get curious. Talking can help you put language around journey. When you’re snagged by emotion, and with the absence of data, you will make up a story to fill in the gaps, because we humans need to understand what is happening, and we don’t want ambiguity.
  • SFD rumbles. Everyone writes a “shitty first draft” of any story they create in their mind or on paper. Challenge it. What’s actually true? What do you really know for sure? What do you need to learn more about and about yourself? Rumble with your SFD!
  • Writing and resilience. 70% of people with high resilience (based on Brené’s research) write down their SFD. Writing things down externalises it and from there, the charge is removed, and it loses its power.
  • Weapon of mass destruction. Your SFD can be a weapon of mass destruction; you can wrestle with your SFDs in safe spaces (like with a coach or a psychologist). We’re not meant to do this alone – we’re not built that way.
  • Failure and opportunity. The moment you learn from a failure, it’s no longer a failure. It is smart to learn from others, and that is the opportunity.
  • Your ending. You get to write your own ending; own the story, be the author, don’t be a character, be brave.

Ciao for now,