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Brené Brown Challenges Us to Dare Greatly

Things you might not have seen. But should.

It sounds like Brené Brown gave a rousing keynote at SXSW. The 2016 interactive portion of the conference has wrapped up, and they’re on to the music in Austin.

Since we couldn’t be at SXSW, we decided to go back and listen again to her 2012 TED talk, where she talked about vulnerability, courage, and (in what has become her signature phrase), daring greatly.

As someone who doesn’t love the limelight, I can relate to Brown’s story about how she used to try hard to stay under the radar. Choosing vulnerability has never been something I actively pursue.

And yet, as Brown points out, ““Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty, it fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief, this is my 12th year of doing this research, that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.”

It takes courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be in a position to fail and to invite criticism. But without taking that step we are far less likely to do something creative or innovative, and in that sense vulnerability becomes a positive driving force.

Brown likes to quote Theodore Roosevelt who praised the “man in the arena”, the person who takes a chance (stress is mine).

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, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

— Theodore Roosevelt

What gets in the way of daring greatly?

Brown would say it’s shame, believing we’re not good enough to step into the arena. Her recommendation? Encourage one another; understand shame and show empathy. Do this and we’ll find our way back to each other.

For more on Brown’s SXSW keynote, visit Forbes and Jessica Malnick’s blog.


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