Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Daring Greatly - Brene Brown

Brene Brown is a Houston based research professor at the Houston University. She has researched courage, vulnerability, empathy and shame and had authored four books 'The Gifts of Imperfection', 'Daring Greatly', 'Rising Strong and 'Braving the Wilderness.' She says "I believe that vulnerability and willingness to be 'all in' even when it can mean failing and hurting - is brave. Brene Brown's TED talks on shame and vulnerability have been widely watched. She is on a mission - the Wholehearted Revolution.

The phrase 'Daring Greatly' after which the book is named is from a Theodore Roosevelt speech, sometimes referred to as 'The Man in The Arena'. Here's the bit.
'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,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end of the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...'

The Culture of Not Enough
Brene talks about the 'Never Enough' syndrome. But we can say 'Enough' - which also means Enough of that and also I am Enough.

Shame categories - Appearance and body image, Money and work, Motherhood/fatherhood, family, parenting, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, ageing, eligion, surviving trauma and being stereotypes or labeled. From bankruptcy, to boss calling us an idiot, infertility to flunking etc.

Our source of scarcity (not enough) causes - Shame, Comparison and Disengagement. Shame leads to fear. Fear leads to rick aversion. Risk aversion kills innovation.

Culture and Shame
Shame - Is fear of ridicule and belittling used to manage people and keeping them in line? Is self worth tied to achievement, productivity or compliance? Are put downs and name calling rampant? What about favoritism? Is perfection an issue?

Comparison - Is there constant comparing and ranking? Has creativity been suffocated? Are people held to a narrow standard rather than acknowledged for their unique gifts and contributions? Is there an an ideal way of being or one form of talent that is used a measurement for everyone else's worth?

Disengagement - Are people afraid to take risks or try new things? Is it easier to stay quiet than to share stories, experiences and ideas? Does it feel as if n one is really paying attention or listening? Is everyone struggling to be seen or heard?

The Disengagement Divide
Disengagement is the issue underlying many problems in schools, families, organisations. We disengage to protect ourselves from vulnerability shame, and feeling lost and without purpose. We also disengage when we feel like people who are leading us - bosses, teachers, principal, clergy, parents, politicians, aren't living up to their end of the social contract.

Value Gap - Disengagement Divide
The space between our practiced values and our aspirational values is the value gap, or what we call the disengagement divide.

Aspirational values - Honesty and Integrity, Practiced values - rationalising and letting things slide
Aspirational values - Respect and accountability, Practiced values - fast and easy is more important
Aspirational values - Gratitude and respect - Practiced values: teasing, taking for granted, disrespect
Aspirational values - Setting limits - Practiced values - Rebellion and cool are important

Culture questions
What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
Where are how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
What rules and expectation are followed,enforced and ignored?
Do people feel safe ad supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? Who stand s the cows back up?
What stories are legend and what values do they covey?
What happens when someone fails, disappoints or makes a mistake?
How is vulnerability perceived?
How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
What's the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalised, or is there high premium put on comfort and how does that look?

Signs that shame has permeated the culture
Blaming, gossipping, favoritism, name-calling and harassment. A more obvious sign is when shame becomes an outright management tool. People in leadership roles bullying others, criticising subs in front of colleagues, public reprimands, rewards that shame and belittle people.

Shame can only rise so far in any system before people disengage to protect themselves. When we're disengaged, we don't show up, we don't contribute, and we stop caring. On the far end of the spectrum, disengagement allows people to rationalise all kinds of unethical behavior including lying, stealing and cheating.

The definition of Connection and Belonging:
Connection:Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued, when they can give and receive without judgment.
Belonging: It is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are hollow substitutes for belonging and are often barriers to belonging. True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.

"I see the insidious nature of race, class and privilege playing out in one of the most historically damaging ways possible - the server/served relationship. When we treat people as objects we are dehumanising them. We do something terrible to their souls and to our own. "When two people relate to each other authentically, God is the electricity that surges between them.' I am suggesting we start looking people in the eye when we speak to them."

"Nothing has transformed my life more than realising that its a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reactions of the people in the stands. The people who love me regardless of the outcome are there within reach. This realisation changed everything."

Vulnerability Myths
Brene debunks the Vulnerability Myths and behaviors such as - It is weakness, I want to experience your vulnerability but I don't want to be vulnerable, I don't do vulnerable, vulnerability is letting it all hang out and We can do it alone

Combating Shame
To understanding and combat shame Brene says, watch out for the same tapes in your head that keep playing messages of self doubt and self criticism. Stop the tapes and replace them with some better tapes. Also, Brene says shame hates having words wrapped around it - so when you talk about your shame, it withers. Shame is pain.
Brene differentiates between guilt and shame as
Guilt - I did something bad
Shame - I am bad

"People believe they deserve their shame, they do not believe ther deserve ther humiliation - Donald Klein"

On the low vibrating emotions we have Guilt/ Shame/ Humiliation/ Embarrassment.
Brene talks about building shame resilience by recognising shame and its triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out, speaking shame. She says practice, courage, reach out. Own your story.

Women and Men on Shame
Her research on women on shame reveals this - stay small, sweet, quiet, pretty and modest. While for men shame is - Do not be perceived as weak.

Vulnerability Armory
Our Vulnerability armory consists of - Foreboding joy (imagining bad scenarios beforehand), Numbing (completely numbed to the experience with no feelings), Perfectionism (it is an armor against being vulnerable).
Practicing gratitude is an antidote to foreboding joy. There is a definite connection between joy and gratitude. Be grateful for what you have and don't squander joy.
Perfectionism is a shield against vulnerability and we disguise it as striving for excellence, self improvement. It is not. You are better off practicing self kindness/ common humanity/ mindfulness.
Numbing yourself to emotions is another way of shutting out vulnerability.

Shame and Innovation
"If we want to reignite innovation and passion, we have to rehumanise work. When shame becomes a management style, engagement dies. When failure if not an option we can forget about learning, creativity, and innovation.
The secret killer of innovation is shame. You cannot measure it, but it is there. Every time someone holds back a new idea, fails to give their manager much needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client you can be sure shame played a part. That deep fear we all have of being wrong, of being belittled  and of feeling less than, is what stops us from taking the very risks required to move our companies forward.
If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability. in their teams. And this requires first that they are vulnerable themselves."

"I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure."

10 Guideposts to Cultivating Culture
To cultivate
Authenticity - let go of what people think
Self compassion - let go of perfectionism
Resilient spirit - let go of numbing and powerlessness
Gratitude  and joy - let go of scarcity and fear of the dark
Intuition and trusting faith - let go of need for certainty
Creativity - let go of comparison
Play and rest - let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth
Calm and stillness - let go of anxiety as a lifestyle
Meaningful work - let go of self doubt and supposed to

Power of Vulnerability - Example
A great example of the power of vulnerability - is an approach taken by Christine Day. In a video interview to CNN Money she explained that she was once a very bright executive who majored in being right. Her transformation came when she realised that getting people to engage and take ownership wasn't about telling but about letting them come into the idea in a purpose-led way. That her job was about creating the space for others to perform. The shift was from 'having the best idea or problem solving' to 'being the best leader of people'.

Vulnerability Check
We can tell about vulnerability when we hear people saying
I don't know / I need help / I'd like to give it a shot / I disagree - can we talk about it? / It didn't work but I learned a lot / Yes, I did it / Here's what I need / Here's how I feel / I'd like some feedback / Can I get your take on this? / What can I do better next time? / Can you teach me how to do this? / I played a part in that./ I accept responsibility for that / I'm here for you / I want to help /Let's  move on /I am sorry / That means a lot to me / Thank you

"Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.  This scarcity makes leadership valuable...It's uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers. Its uncomfortable to propose an ida that might fail. Its uncomfortable to challenge the statu quo. Its uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle. When you identify the discomfort you have found the place where the leader is needed. If you are not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, its almost certain you're not reaching your potential as a leader."  - Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Wholehearted life
Practice wholehearted living - by learning how to feel. staying mindful about numbing behaviors/ learning how to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions

Wholehearted Parenting

  • If Wholeheartedness is the goal, then above all we would strive to raise children who
  • Engage with the world from a place of worthiness
  • Embrace their vulnerabilities and imperfections
  • Feel a deep sense of love and compassion for themselves and others
  • Value hard work, perseverance and respect
  • Carry a sense of authenticity and belonging with them, rather than searching for it in external places
  • Have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable and creative
  • Don't fear feeling ashamed or unloveable if they are different or if they are struggling

Parents are called upon to

  • Acknowledge that we cant give our children what we don't have and so we must let them share in our journey to grow, change and learn
  • Recognise our own armor and model for our children how to take it off, to be vulnerable, show up and let ourselves be seen and known
  • Honor our children by continuing on our own journey towards wholeheartedness
  • parent from a place of 'enough' than from scarcity
  • Mind the gap and practice the values we want to reach
  • Dare greatly, possibly more than we've ever dared before

Childhood experiences of shame can change who we are, how we think about ourselves and our sense of self worth.

It is very interesting work. The idea of putting oneself out there and failing, and worse, dealing with the shame and its brothers and sisters, can be an obstacle for our growth. But Brene says that its ok to be vulnerable, it makes you stronger to be vulnerable, that shame withers away when we speak of it and when we don't, it stops our growth. Being wholehearted, being gentle with oneself and others, being comfortable with progress and not perfectionism and most importantly knowing that we are perfect as we are, and a little improvement is fine.
I liked the analogy to innovation and how shame blocks all innovation. Insecure leaders will breed more insecure leaders, use shame as a management tool. The greatest leaders are secure - with their imperfections - which is what makes them great.

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