Courage - to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart

Submitted by laurastavro on April 25, 2011 - 12:49pm
"Connection is why we're here. It gives meaning and purpose to our lives."

Brene Brown, a researcher-storyteller, gave this TED talk and, to me, it is a beautiful portrait of humanity and the struggle for connection and with vulnerability.

The subject and inspiration of post is this TED talk by Brene Brown

I hope you've taken the time to watch the video - it's 20 minutes but it is definitely a third of an hour well spent.

I'm not quite sure where to begin except, perhaps, with yet another quick story from my own life.

When I first discovered this video I was living with my mother, back in my home town and unsure of what I was going to do. My life kept changing, or rather I kept changing my life, and yet I'd ended up back with the same company, in almost the same job that I'd left a year before. I watched Brene Brown speak and was inspired. Despite the fact that I was caught in a kind of unending cycle that was very dissatisfying - I wanted desperately to change my career but couldn't quite get there! - her words somehow gave me hope and strength. I've tried very hard to be courageous, to live authentically and in hearing her speak it confirmed that even though I was feeling weighed down I was still on the right path.

When I next returned to the video my circumstances were the same, but different.

I'd just had my heart broken and was feeling so alone. I was working from home and just the most miserable person around. I was terrible company but, thank goodness, my friends put up with me and encouraged me, reassuring me that this was just another step on life's journey and that there were many other fish in the sea.

The thing is, it was this video that really made the difference in a lot of ways. As I sat in front of my computer and considered vulnerability I felt both inspired and empowered. As Brown says, the people who live life most whole-heartedly are those who are willing to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they are.

Watching the video reminded me that my battle for authenticity while not easy, and often not gratifying either, was still the right way. It encouraged me to speak clearly and honestly from my heart when something really mattered and I'm happy to say I have been amply rewarded for that terrifying effort.

Now, obviously this talk is about so much more than than my experience. Brown's voice, her perspective on humanity, on shame and vulnerability is a rare jewel in many ways.

From the stage in Houston she acknowledges her research bias and her difficulty in practicing what she preaches but she also expresses beautifully the story that brought her to this place where values the intangible, the unmeasurable and battle that we all fight at somepoint - how much of ourselves do we allow to shine through?

"In order for connection to happen we have to allow ourselves to be seen - really seen," Brown says. How does this relate to community? How can we, as individuals, take our stories and grow them in to moments, experiences and conversations that enrich our communities? I feel like community is really a web of different connections - do we need to be vulnerably honest in all of these to get the most out of the experience?

This is obviously a very difficult question. To be honest, this blog is even proving quite difficult to write. I think most of us have been taught that protecting ourselves is paramount because, most of the time, we're the only ones who will do so. Many of us have also borne witness to all types of negative repercussions associated with personal honesty. Think of the children who are bullied in the playground, the women in an office who are passed over because they respond honestly or with emotion to a circumstance in the workplace, the men who for all of their lives have been told to "walk it off" or not to "cry like a girl". 

There are so many barriers to expressing our authenticity - how can we get past them? 

I suppose my thought is that we can only really do it together. We can only encourage each other, our children, friends and colleagues to be themselves and support them when they step out and do so.

There is so much more to say on this. The subject of numbing, of control and of the positive expression of vulnerability through creativity, love, belonging and joy are all topics I'd love to expand on but, for now, I think I'll step away from my desk and hope that you'll start that conversation up for me.

much love,


This is great Laura, you've

This is great Laura, you've covered so many aspects of the issue, or challenge that is one of my main curiosities. In my neighbourhood I feel like there are some values common to those who choose to live here. It's tempting to call it low-rent and assume that everyone is here as a last resort but there are many who have other options. When people first move here they describe it as "open" or "friendly" but I think it is more than that. I think the folks here have made choices about authenticy and sincerety. They don't wear quite so much armour. They don't do quite so much posturing. I find it fascinating that so many are finding each other, that a whole subculture is coalescing here in one city, or part of it. The downside is that yes, you don't necessarily fit into the old lifestyle/neighbourhood/job. But at least we have eachother. And I think it's contagious. I hope you are not alone in your quest!

I'm glad you like it Rebecca!

I'm glad you like it Rebecca! There is so so much in the video that is worth considering, especially in the context of a society that is growing apart while physically cramming closer together. I live in Toronto and so many high rises are going up that there is the potential for new communities everywhere and yet, I'm not sure that they are being created because of the difficulties of urban living. I know when I lived in London I noticed the security people found in anonymity and invisibility and its interesting to consider whether this armour against vulnerability can be stopped in Canadian communities before it grows into the fabric of the city, the way it has in London.....

Thanks for your response!


Can you imagine if appartment

Can you imagine if appartment buildings had community animators?

I just have to share this latest post from Seth Godin. I have this running joke that he is omnisciently keeping tabs on my life as his words of wisdom are so often timely as well as apt, so today he posted an opinion in favour of CHOICE vs AUTHENTICITY saying that we choose how to behave based on the response we get. Secretly, I think he is in love, but I am glad that he is not afraid to disagree with me.

Hmmm I've never read Seth's

Hmmm I've never read Seth's blog before - it's great. I think on the business front he's definitely right - if its not working or getting tired then changing paths is a worthwhile adventure. I guess I'm slightly wary of the implications personally though. While I recognise what he's trying to say when he suggests that "Being comfortable with the familiar persona you see in the mirror is not the same as having an appearance that helps you reach your goals." I guess I just don't fully agree with it. For me, being authentic and owning who we are, our strengths, weaknesses and goals,  is the path to confidence and faith in oneself. To my mind, there is little that is more compelling in both business and personal relationships. I guess I just worry that people see through the costumes we put on - even if they don't realise it consciously. I can think of many situations when I've interacted with people who "walk the walk", who look great and are well spoken but I've left feeling that something wasn't quite right. To me, when that feeling arises I usually put it down to the possibility that the person was trying too hard, they were fighting who they were and that was a barrier to our genuine connection. But I'm curious, why do you secretly think he's in love??

great to hear from you!


ps - re apartment buildings and community animators check out - Hey Neighbour! Its an online community I'm planning to blog about later this week :)

Oh, that's just a joke.

Oh, that's just a joke. Whenever I write about something on my blog, he hits a similar topic on his; most of my writing lately has been around authenticity and sincerity. I am highly entertained by the running gag (as are the regulars at the cafe as I go "Look! He did it again!") and I'm sure he is entirely oblivious to it. Most of his blog is pertinent and useful. I highly recommend it. You may enjoy the books too. He has very "new school" approach to business which mirrors the work/thinking being done in community circles.