The other day, I was talking to my buddy Jason, a co-worker of mine. He’s a fellow Xavier grad and we both have season tickets for men’s basketball, so usually our conversations are about rankings and seeds and opponents. But he got deep on me, and mentioned a conversation he had just had with his wife Charlene, where he said “you’re really only yourself up until about age 4, and then again at age 74.” Meaning kids are too young to know better, and seniors are too old to care, about what others think. But in the decades between, we give up our true selves, and worry too much about fitting in and playing by the rules. We let the weight of other’s expectations and societal cues bring us down. We let fear, judgement and shame take over.
Meanwhile, in a moment of true synchronicity, I happened to be reading the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.
This book covers the same territory. Here’s a great quote from it:
“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make,” says Brown. “Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”
Brown also talks a lot about “scarcity” in American society. We’re conditioned to crave more… a better job, a nicer house, a cooler car, a fatter bank account, more “likes” on social media… in a zero-sum game where we’re constantly comparing/competing with others. She mentions that the opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance, it’s “enough”… as in “I have enough. I AM enough.”
“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when you’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”
Man, does that quote ring true in 2018! The solution, which seems counterintuitive at first blush, is to be more vulnerable.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.”
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Vulnerability is the best way to connect with others.
“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.”
The title of the book comes from a Teddy Roosevelt speech in 1910:
“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 the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Here’s Brené Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability.
The book is well worth checking out. Dare to make it a great weekend!