I recently read that enthusiasm can raise your IQ 20 points. If that were true I would get doubly smart every time I read or heard something from Brown, because her content is ridiculously spot on and I get really excited learning something new from her.
I am pretty routinely teased in my family for my relentless admiration of her. But the admiration is not unwarranted: The woman is brilliant. If you aren’t familiar with her work, she is a researcher and social worker who has spent decades studying courage, vulnerability and shame and has written numerous best-selling books including The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. Her latest book, Dare to Lead, is based on her research on courage and leadership. She also hosts the Unlocking Us podcast, which facilitates intimate conversations with leaders and visionaries across spiritual, psychological, and creative fields, to name just a few.
Along with over 45 million other people, I was first introduced to Brown through her two TED talks, which are among the top 5 viewed talks in TED history: The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. I have passed these talks on to countless clients and friends and I return to them, like much of her work, time and time again.
She talks about vulnerability, shame, perfectionism, the inner-critic and risk-taking in a way that resonates. Her insights are supported by years of research and data, she is irreverent and funny, and she is plain spoken and real. She reflects many of our universal struggles and engages us through her intellect, storytelling, self-disclosure and humor. Her talks explore why we should take risks, how we can quiet the criticism (internally and externally), and how to embrace our vulnerability. The very best in us, she insists, always comes from vulnerability.
Get your hands on anything you can read, or listen to, of Brown’s. Her two TED talks in particular, are an excellent start. They are ideal for high school students navigating the complexities and pressures of adolescents and trying to find their authentic selves, students transitioning to college or careers and trying to armor themselves against setbacks or failures (perceived or real), or anyone who wants to show up in a way that is genuine, empathetic, engaged and affirming. She champions taking risks, and fiercely believes in our capacity to recover. This has great value in a culture where perfectionism is idealized and there is little margin for error.
Take a listen. And then take a listen again. These are conversations worth coming back to.