Natural Born Leader – Brene Brown

Natural Born Leader or Bumbling Fool.  You are what you believe.

On the 31 July 2019, I stepped into the Arena at the ICC to play the game of life.  It cost me a fortune and I took my bestie, but there we were sitting in a room full of inspired souls, who over the next three hours would become friends for life.  Brene Brown was in the house and about to present her workshop of personal transformation based on her new book, Dare to Lead.  I can best describe the feeling as champagne bubbles running through my veins.  

30 seconds with Brene Brown


I have shied away from my ‘natural born leader’ instinct for years, after a nasty workplace experience.  It pleases me now that the behaviour I was challenging over a decade ago was the exact behaviour Brene Brown is calling out in her new book.  ‘Rumbling with vulnerability’ and ‘circle back’ were two key concepts I have continued to believe in but struggle with as much of society is happy to AVOID the elephant in the room, so they, themselves, don’t feel bad.   Sitting in the pain of shame, guilt and regret has allowed me to reflect on my choices, give myself an uppercut and bounce back knowing more with the intention of making better choices.

Brene went on to explain the differences between Daring and Armoured Leadership styles and how those hard conversations filled with empathy, compassion and gratitude set healthy boundaries and cultivate the culture of belonging – every humans’ need.   I’m hoping one day this becomes the text for our high schoolers. There is so much insight in her examples and experience that can reduce the impact of what divides our society today. Power and Control.

Standing by instead of standing up, tolerating instead of true connection, fitting in instead of standing out and avoidance instead of action.

As the workshop went on, the true connection was amongst those she had brought together on that day.  Rumbling real conversations made sharing our life struggles with each other comfortable; a lesson on empathy learnt.  We weren’t there to fix it for each other and the greatest gift I got that day was the valuable time of strangers I now call friends. #tabitha #sarah

It was a lot to consume and at the closing I thought about the big take aways;

1. ‘It is not the critic that counts…………..(you’ll have to read her book……..) The credit belongs to the man (or woman if I am being a feminist) who is actually in the arena……….

That person is me.  What I’ve always known but not lived by is that : there will not always be an invitation and in order to be seen and heard you must step up to the table, giving yourself permission to sit down and speak ‘even if your voice shakes’.  You won’t always be welcome. ‘They’ might not like what you have to say. You may succeed or achieve and then there is also a risk of failure. But ‘if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly’ – Brene Brown.

2. The story I am telling myself………..Whoa this was big.

I’m someone who likes the details. Knowing is understanding and powerful, otherwise I have a tendency to fill in the blanks with my own meanings and associations based on past experiences. It’s something I’m working on and I don’t feel the need so much to know everything as much as I use to, which has actually reduced my levels of anxiety (something I thought knowing everything would actually do).  I’m pretty sure this is common and a bit of PTSD. But I can clearly see the correlation between the intense feelings of fear experienced, fuelling the need to know all so to avoid the anticipated pain with a well thought out defensive plan. As I found, Catastrophizing is a great coping mechanism for anxiety; as the actual outcome is usually better than expected, not pleasant but better. Finally stopped that one.

Brene gave a great example of ‘the story she told herself’ (head straight to p244) with the Ham Fold Over Debate.  The concept has become a yellow flag for my own thought process…….and a mantra I quite often repeat “What do you mean by that?”  This effective little tool stops me associating the random off-the-cuff comments from others as criticism.  So for the critics in your realm, remember they are not playing in your arena.  Their opinions are none of your business and there is no requirement for justification to anyone.

3.  ‘Shields engaged? Check. Armour up? Check. Heart closed? Check. Defenses activated? Check.’ – Brene Brown

When I read this in her book, Dare to Lead, I could literally hear the captain inside my head talking me through this safety check list. Not only could I perform this task at lightening speed but most of the people I knew did it as well.   My struggle to trust is the story of many, successfully trusting came when I truly embraced trusting myself again. Creating the new belief that I made good choices for me, aligning my decisions with values not so called friendships and accepting I have bounced back from worse, took time. Being perceived as trustworthy by others was no longer a priority, as it caused me to chase the intangible seal of approval. With trust ‘all things are possible’ and identifying specific breaches in a conversation about trust tends not to activate the protective shield. Brene’s BRAVING inventory is an awesome guide to having a conversation that raises concerns with curiosity.  (click braving for the direct link to pdf)

I finally got my 3 minutes with Brene at the end of the day.  Her hug was like a warm fire, her words of encouragement the spark to my flame but my favourite moment was when she read my shirt and said, “I love it and yes you are excused, girl!” It was the permission slip I had given myself 2 years ago when I realised just how insignificant I had made myself feel.  It is my responsibility to live this life, make a difference and create change. So as of the 1 August 2019 I choose Courage over Comfort. My hope is you do too.


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