Becoming Brené Brown

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked.

We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” — Brené Brown

During onboarding and discovery calls, I learn that a majority of my female clients and prospects aspire to be like Brené Brown, especially if they are ages 40+ and entering the “significance” and “legacy” stages of their life.

And, to be honest, I’ve discovered I want to be like Brené Brown too!

Brené is an exceptional leader, the New York Times bestselling author of books Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection, et al., researcher, academic, and storyteller.

However, she didn’t just spontaneously “become” this sage and serving leader. The process of “becoming” takes time and, often, toil. Being marred with blood and dust, hitting all-time lows, and as Brené oftentimes shared, “getting your ass kicked”.

Which leads me to these questions: Why is Brené aspirational? How is she so sensational? And what does it take for one to become Brené?

Having read her books, listened to her podcast, and followed her on social media for many years, I have found 5 distinctions that make her a remarkable leader, sought-after speaker, innovative trailblazer, thought-leader, and creator who has left her mark on the hearts and souls of so many people.

Here are five leadership lessons we can learn from Brené Brown:

  1. Inclusivity — Brené is inclusive. She tactfully uses her platform to amplify the voices of others, especially women. Recently, Brown co-edited the anthology, You Are Your Best Thing, with Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo. She doesn’t speak for people or assumes others don’t have a voice. Instead, she creates space for others to share the stage with her, which leads to our next distinction.
  2. Evoking Inspiration — Brené inspires, creates, and develops other leaders. These are people who choose politics, speaking careers, and other leadership roles. The ultimate definition of good leadership is that leadership itself, is a service. Taking a closer look at her work, it’s crystal clear that Brené’s stories serve many as the motivation required to inspire others toward action.
  3. Genuiness — Brené is unapologetic. Brené is committed to living a wholehearted life and showcases this value front and center. For example, on her website, Brené says: “My speaking availability is very limited. In addition to research, writing, and teaching, I’m working on my own wholehearted life. Living this work means prioritizing time with my family, and friends, and creative time.” Today’s leaders need this level of personal and professional boundaries set to run the marathons of their careers and their fullest heartfelt ambitions.
  4. Courage — Brené breathes boldness. In her 2019 Netflix documentary, Brené Brown: The Call To Courage, the keynote speaker delves into her deepest personal reflections, including stories about her marriage, kids, personal failures, and misjudgments. All of these anecdotes and lessons learned, she explains, take a courageous amount of boldness to share publicly. The leadership lesson learned here: Humility and vulnerability are the most courageous acts of leadership.
  5. Transparency — Lastly, as we learned from the previous 4 lessons, Brené shows tremendous amounts of tactful transparency. These leadership lessons of inclusivity, evoking inspiration, and courage combined are simply traits highlighting unique and authentic transparency. This level of openness draws us in and enables us to deeply connect with each other — an emotional soft skill that any seasoned leader needs in their toolbelt.

What leaders do you find aspirational? Why?

This week, think about ways you are embodying inclusivity, evoking inspiration, being unapologetic in your values, with vulnerability, and courage.

Watch your leadership capacity grow to its fullest potential.

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Alicia Dunams

International corporate speaker and trainer. Bestselling author. Creator of Bestseller in a Weekend®.