Learnings from Brene Brown

I was lucky enough to see Brene Brown speak at a business chicks workshop event last week. Total fangirl moment!

For those who don’t know Brene Brown, she’s a researcher, storyteller and scholar (amongst other titles) who has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

You may have seen her on Oprah’s couch or chatting with her friend Elizabeth Gilbert or you may have seen her 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, which is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers to date. If you haven’t seen it… It’s a must watch!

In the workshop I attended, she spoke about brave leaders and courage cultures and presented and spoke about some new research she has been working on.

She had the whole room, hundreds of people, mostly women, in awe for the whole 2 hours. So I wanted to share some of the learnings and some of her quotes, firstly so that I don’t forget them, and secondly, because no matter who you are and what you do… there’s something valuable here for everyone… Ah ha moments (as Oprah would say).

Let’s start with some of my favourite quotes…

“We will not change the world if we don’t change the way we work”

“You’ve got to know what your emotional weather is and how it affects those around you”

“We don’t change people with what we know we change people with who we are”

On Trust

  • Trust is a collection of small moments. It’s about the building of small moments, not grand gestures and Brene used the marble jar analogy as example and is how she explained trust to her young daughter. Basically everyone starts with an empty metaphorical marble jar and whenever a friend or colleague does something that earns your trust, you put a marble in their jar. Marbles get taken out when that friend does something that doesn’t earn your trust, like gossips, disrespects you, talks more about themselves rather than asking about you, or doesn’t make the same effort as you to connect, etc
  • Only when their jar is full can you really trust them enough to share your story, or have they earned the right to hear your story
  • Because trust is built in small moments of time, you have to take the time. You cannot cheat time
  • The number one thing that builds trust is asking for help (which shows vulnerability)
  • The second thing that builds trust is going to funerals. Showing up when it matters most!

On Leadership

  • Brene said, and she quotes this from Oprah “If you cannot disappoint people you cannot lead”
  • To be a great leader you have to be comfortable with disappointing people. it’s about “I respect her work” versus “I like her”
  • Being calm is a leadership superpower and it’s incredibly contagious
  • It’s a learned skill i.e. to be able to breathe and respond slowly when things turn to shit, then ask yourself, do I have enough data to freak out and will that be helpful?
  • To be a good leader you need to understand the intersection between your personal and professional development, and personal development is more important
  • You need to ask yourself are you going to choose courage over comfort – The tough truth over easy bullshit

On Vulnerability

  • Vulnerability without boundaries is not really vulnerability
  • You need to understand vulnerability in context and what’s appropriate

But the Key take out for me and something I’m personally going to work on is keeping this quote in mind…

“Everyday I will choose what is courageous over what is comfortable”. The tough truth over easy bullshit!

My head came away from the workshop spinning with a big list of things to think about and do:

  • Read all her books –   Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection
  • Look into her Courage Works online courses
  • Read being in the Hum by Shonda Rhimes as recommended by Brene
  • And watch her TEDx talk again and again
  • The parenting manifesto is also incredible and should be stuck up on every household’s wall. You can watch her read it sitting on the couch with Oprah here.

Do you choose the courageous over the comfortable? Or like me is it something you’re working on too? How do you decide who gets marbles in their jar? 

Linking up to #IBOT with Essentially Jess






40 thoughts on “Learnings from Brene Brown

  1. Oh I wish I was in Sydney to be able to get to see speakers like Brene, thank you so much for sharing as I was very curious. I’m like you and probably need to work on being courageous (although I think you already are). Sounds like a very inspiring workshop.

    1. That is so sweet of you. I think it’s something you get better at as you get older. Just gotta keep on at it! X

  2. Great summary Shannon! We’re doing the CourageWorks online course at work with my team and it’s pretty powerful when time is invested xx

    1. Oh I have so many questions for you Rez! How much time does it take? If I did it I’d want to be able to dedicate all the time! And hiw much work is required? Assume readings and workbook type stuff? So good you are doing it as a team too. Cant wait to hear all about it when you finish! Xx

  3. Great summary Shannon! We’re doing the CourageWorks online course at work with my team and it’s pretty powerful when time is invested xx

  4. As another Brene Brown fangirl, I’m jealous! I didn’t even know she was coming down to Sydney for a talk as part of The School of Life…only found out on the night of her talk and of course, by then it was too late. I try and use some of her principles and research in my work with clients. Her Ted talk is awesome as are her books. I’m yet to read Rising Strong but have read the others.

    1. Oh what a shame you missed her. Maybe next time. I can’t wait to get stuck into her books. Are they quick reads? Xx

  5. It’s very interesting to me how much the world has fallen in love with woo woo motivational speakers. I worked in this industry back in 2000 and they were generally seen as a bit of a joke by the mainstream. LOL.

    1. Haha. So so true. how things have changed huh! I dont mind me a bit of woo, but What I like about Brene is that she’s also an academic so her brand of woo is fully supported by research studies and stats. Xx

    1. Me too Nikki. Challenging isn’t it! But I think it’s something we get better at as we get older. Thanks so much for stopping by. X

  6. Wow. What an interesting workshop this would have been to attend. I really must look into the tedx talk I am not one of the 25mill! I wonder about trust I find it really easy to trust and be vulnerable about myself with people who are relative strangers but with those who are closest to me that is where I struggle. I guess it could be because those closest are going to hold me accountable, not sure.

  7. What a privilege it must have been to attend this Shannon! I am in awe of your note taking…. and pleased you shared. I have been recently doing quite a lot of learning myself and Brene is one of those people who is helping me. For the second time now I am listening to The Gifts of Imperfection on CD and have enrolled in her on-line art course which centres on this book. I am enjoying the learning that is for sure. I have respect for Brene because she has an academic background and has done the hard yards too whilst being real! Denyse #teamIBOT

    1. You’ve nailed it right there Denyse. I love that she’s studied these things in great depth and then shares her findings. It really does make it so much more real rather than just listening to another presenter. So much respect for her and what she does. Your study sounds so rewarding. Enjoy xx

    1. Me too! I couldn’t write down her quotes quick enough! Everything resonates and just makes so much sense. Xx

  8. What an inspiring lady! I ‘ve never been a leader in my job but what you wrote really speaks to me. Especially that I don’t see a lot of leaders presenting those kind of qualities! You know i smiled about the marbles in the jar. I used to do that with gingerboy to challenge him with good behavior last year. I have to say that the visual filling is very motivating.
    xx cathy

    1. So good to hear the marble jar method worked for you too lovely. And I agree… whether you’re a leader or not, Brene’s advice just makes so much sense and I think everyone can gain something from it! xx

    1. I pretty much was Jess! I drank about 13 cups of tea during the 2 hour session and was busting to go to the bathroom, but I simply couldn’t miss anything she said so I held! I held for Brene! Ha! total fan girl! xx

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