Brené Brown: 'Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change'

Published: October 20, 2017
Author: Steven Thomas

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” - Brené Brown

I'm halfway through listening to Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.  You know how audible allows you to 'clip' sections of the book you're listening to and add notes to return to later? Well, I reckon I've clipped more in this book than any other I've listened to.  If you're interested in becoming a more rounded leader, parent, sister, brother or friend then I recommend this book. Authenticity can be an overused word but she goes deep on a range of topics that I guess contribute to each of us being our authentic selves: vulnerability, courage, shame and empathy.  I felt compelled to share an insight (before finishing the book) from the section where Brené explores the culture created by corporates, families and groups.  The work they do and the connections they create.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” - Brené Brown

By asking these 10 questions she says she can tell a lot about the culture and the resulting behaviours of the people within it.  It struck me that these questions are a great sense-check and can help us all evaluate the cultural dynamics we find ourselves part of (and are in some way responsible for) in each strand of our lives. Perhaps more importantly, they can help us decide on the parts we're willing to live with and the parts we are prepared to step forward and try to change.

Brené's Browns 10 questions to assess culture:

  1. What behaviours are rewarded and punished?
  2. Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
  3. What rules and expectations are followed, enforced, and ignored?
  4. Do people feel safe and supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
  5. What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them over? Who stands the cows back up?
  6. What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
  7. What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes a mistake?
  8. How is vulnerability (mistakes, uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure) perceived?
  9. How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
  10. What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?

About Brené Brown

  • She's a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Endowed Chair.
  • Has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame.
  • Is the author of four books: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness.
  • Her first TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability has now been played over 31.5m times.  Turns out vulnerability is interesting



Main image by Muhd Asyraaf on Unsplash