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Video of the Month: Ted Talk - Brené Brown on Connection and Authenticity

In this 20 minute video, Brené Brown, a researcher/story teller, found some information in her research that changed the way she lives. This video ties in greatly to my previous blog post on "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway."

Lean into the discomfort? Not for her, knock it upside the head and move it over. She's interested in messy topics, but she wants to understand them, "hack" into them, and lay the code out for everyone to see. She doesn't want to deal with discomfort or vulnerability.

So the topic is connection. And I'm going to quote and paraphrase some of her words here...

"Connection. It is why we are here. It is what gives purpose to our lives...

And when you ask about connection, the stories are actually about dis-connection. I got deep into the research and found out that the topic was "shame" - is there something about me, that if other people know it or see it, I won't be worthy of connection?

What underpinned this "I'm not good enough, or I'm not "x" enough" was excruciating vulnerability. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. And to be completely vulnerable.

The difference between people who have a sense of worthiness, a strong sense of love and belonging, and the people who struggle for it, who are always wondering if they're good enough, is that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. That's it. They believe they're worthy.

The one thing that keeps us out of connection, is that we're fearful that we're not worthy of it."

She then looks at people who believe they're worthy - the happiest, wholehearted people living from a deep sense of worthiness. She then does data analysis to find the pattern.

What they had in common was a sense of courage... Courage - Latin Cor - for heart, meaning to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

1. These people simply had the courage to be imperfect.

2. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly.

3. They had connection as a result of authenticity. They let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they really were.

4. They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They talked about vulnerability as being necessary, not good or bad... examples like the willingness to say I love you first, the willingness to do something when there are no guarantees, willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought it was fundamental. So the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop trying to control and predict.

And the ways people mentioned vulnerability in her research were examples like:

· Having to ask my spouse for help because I'm sick and we're newly married

· Being turned down

· Asking someone out

· Laying off people

· Getting laid off

"So people try to numb these feelings. I don't want to feel these, I'm going to have a few beers and a banana nut muffin.

But the problem is, you can't selectively numb. So we can't numb those hard feelings without numbing other feelings, when we numb those, we numb joy, gratitude, and happiness. We are miserable and then we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we become vulnerable. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

So then we try to perfect but our job is not to be perfect.

Our job is to say, you are imperfect, but you are worthy of love and belonging. We pretend that what we do doesn't affect people. And what we really need is authenticity.

We need to let ourselves be seen, to love with our whole hearts even if there's no guarantee, to practice gratitude & joy, instead of catastrophizing what might happen just to instead say, I'm just so grateful. And overall we need to have the belief that 'I am enough'.


I always gave the example to my students when I taught in Rome, think about David Letterman and think about Tiger Woods. They both had similar situations. Both cheated. One chose to own it, go on TV immediately and state his situation and apologize. The other chose to hop on a boat and disappear for a while. Which situation got worse and worse and worse, and which situation did the media quickly forget about? Letterman, through his authenticity and vulnerability, made a connection. Brown's research ties in perfectly with this example. Owning it, in whatever way that means, does create connection.

Do you think you're enough? Might it be a struggle for all of us at one point or another?

Again, this is a great tie in with the book, "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway," because it's about pushing aside the chatterbox that says "I'm not x enough" and finding ways to make decisions from a place of compassion.

And based on Brown's research, if we can get to that place of compassion and authenticity for ourselves, we will make stronger connections with others. "Connection. It is why we are here. It is what gives purpose to our lives..."

One of the most fantastic things I came away with from this video is that as a coach, I am your champion, I know you're already ready to make a change if you're considering coaching. As a coach I simply hold up a mirror to people to show them that they have great stuff inside and that in fact, they are worthy.

Somewhere inside you already know that, put perhaps you've been beaten down so much by the system, the people or the process that you forgot, or that doubt has overtaken the situation and convinced you that you are lesser than you really are.

One of the first days of coaching class I finished with the observation that everyone in class was so insanely happy, and it was almost as if the group was given permission to exhale as a whole. (see motivational songs: Exhale, Breathe, etc. :) Because as part of the third day of class we stated our positive observations of each other. "Maria, you are enthusiastic. Maria, you are kind. Maria, you are a good mother." Can we say EMOTIONAL? Because ya know what. Maria thought she was a good mother, she wanted to be a good mother, but might have had some doubts. And just hearing it. Well, it was nice for all of us. On both the giving end of the compliment and the recieving end. How often in life do you get to sit in a room of people validating who you are? Especially from people who barely know you?

Over just three days we could pick up on these wonderful qualities in each other and I thought, wow. This IS emotional. As a society and as a culture, we just do not give each other enough of this kind of feedback and support. And we don't have to even know them that well to see the goodness inside of them.

Instead there's just a sh*tload of judging, and a lot of "should-ing". You should be doing this for a career, you should not be at work so long and be home with your kids more, you should just be happy you have someone, you shouldn't say what you really think, you should be a higher level job title by now, you should go with the flow, etc. etc.

As Brown states, having the courage to be imperfect is what gets people into that wholehearted bucket, the people who truly are happy and have a strong sense of connection. And if we can be that compassionate person to ourselves, then we can look at others as imperfect too and allow that to be ok.

Why do we need others to be so perfect and fit into this box of what we want for them? I don't know. But I do know that you probably get enough of that already in your life, and I can tell you that as coaches we will not have that expectation for you. I will not judge you, I will not tell you what you should or should not be doing. And if you start "should-ing" yourself, we'll figure out not what you “should” be doing, but what you truly desire, what you truly want in your heart. And we'll discover ways to get you closer to that place. Which means a better state of being, less of the chatterbox, more of the connection.

Here's to achieving your greatest potential!


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