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I may be 49, but Dr. Brené Brown kindly (yet firmly) schooled me at the 2018 Texas Conference for Women. She opened my eyes to the many habits and beliefs that women like me hold onto that are preventing them from, if I may say so, running the world.
What’s So Great About Brené Brown?
Not familiar with Brené? Here’s her story: She was born in 1965 in San Antonio, Texas, and graduated from University of Texas with a BSW and later earned her MSW and PhD from University of Houston. As a research professor at UH, Brené focuses on authentic leadership and wholeheartedness in families, schools, and organizations. Brené exploded into the public eye with her 2010 TedxHouston Talk “The Power of Vulnerability.” It ends up hitting the Top 5 Most Watched TED Talks of All Time list with over 36 million views. She published four New York Times best sellers (see below) and in 2013, she appeared on Super Soul Sunday talking with Oprah Winfrey about her book, Daring Greatly. Brené continues to teach leadership through classes, online programs/resources, and public speaking.
And that brings us to Brené’s speech at the Texas Conference for Women. When actor/producer/advocate Reese Witherspoon and award-winning journalist Sharyn Alfonsi claim they were back stage taking note’s during Brown’s talk, you know this is a woman with something important to say. The 7,500 conference attendees seemed to agree. I could go into detail about her speech, but you’ll get the most value from reading the book Dare To Lead. So just go ahead and purchase it now. My copy is already on its way.
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I’d rather share the reasons why I want to grow up to be Brené, which is going to have to happen quickly at my age. Here’s my short list that you’re free to add to in the comments section.
Reason 1: Brené Brown curses publicly and appropriately
Some conservative readers my think there’s never an appropriate time to curse publicly. Fair enough. But I feel that when used contextually or as a guttural reaction, it’s honest and realistic. A few “shits” and “damns” lightly peppered through a story-telling speech surprises most and therefore drives home a point effectively. Once I start cursing, it can get out of control pretty quickly, so I don’t do it in front of strangers.
When I grow up, I hope to curse appropriately. Mind you, this is not an endorsement to call people names or tell them where to go or what to do using four-letter words.
Reason 2: Brené Brown is brave enough to be vulnerable
The power of vulnerability is a building block of Brené’s message. At one point in her speech, Brené tells the audience that she’s been sober for 22 years. IMHO, this is a very personal detail that can open a can of judgement, assumptions, and general nastiness. I have a hard time admitting when I used the last bit of toilet paper and didn’t change the roll. My family will vouch for that. The thought of leaving myself vulnerable to any kind of confrontation or shaming or blaming scares the shit out of me. (<– Practicing my appropriate cursing!)
When I grow up, I want to be brave enough to be vulnerable when necessary and graciously allow others to be vulnerable, too. Contact me if you want to have a vulnerability party!
Reason 3: Brené Brown replaced gossip with direct communication
We heard about Brené giving up gossip and how she had to be extremely direct with a friend as a form of preventing gossip. Her friend had a drinking problem that resulted in behavior that stirred gossip mill at social gatherings. So, Brené directly stated to her friend that she was only invited to her house party if the friend agreed not to drink. At all. Rather than agree, the friend did not show up to the party. The approach worked; there was no subsequent gossip.
This was a *tough conversation* but one that needed to happen. Do I find myself gossiping? Yes, and I’m not proud of it. Am I painfully uncomfortable with directly communicating something that may be met with anger, resentment, or resistance? More often than I care to admit. (See how vulnerable I’m being here?) I’ve always been a people pleaser to a large extent, so this type of direct communication is associated with high risk of displeasing others. It’s a stigma that needs to disappear already. As Brené says “Direct is kind.”
When I grow up, I want to speak my mind clearly and directly in all situations– except when it’s none of my business or serves no good purpose.
Thank you to the Texas Conference for Women board for inviting Brené Brown to speak and encouraging women to step into leadership roles.
If you’re interested in buying any or all of Brown’s books, please do it using the links below. Your purchase results in an affiliate commission that helps support SheSpark’s mission to promote positive self image and lifestyles for women over 40.
About The Author
Thea Wood is the co-publisher of SheSpark.com and a certified image consultant from Austin, TX. She is a TEDx speaker and wrote the new e-book The Intentional Makeover and co-authored the book Socially Smart & Savvy. Thea shares styling advice at TheaWood.com, helping women create a signature style that says who they are and where they’re going.