Brené Brown's research focuses on the areas of shame and vulnerability. I would imagine that these are not areas that many of us read about on a regular basis, but Brené Brown’s work makes it relevant and accessible to everybody.
In her work, Brené Brown talks about the power of human connection. She emphasizes the importance of it in order to be your authentic self. Vulnerability is usually seen as a weakness. There are not many people that wake up in the morning and strive to be vulnerable. In fact, we do just about everything to stop ourselves from being in vulnerable positions.
Brené describes the way we armor up against vulnerability. We essentially armor up to control fear, self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty. However, she argues that when we armor up in order to avoid the aforementioned, we shut off the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, trust, empathy, creativity and innovation.
We live in a society in which we are constantly trying to evaluate best case scenarios and mitigate damage before it happens. The thing is, many spend so much time evaluating the consequences and what people will think, that they do not follow through with sharing their ideas and their God given gifts. As someone who falls in the ‘creatives’ category, part of what makes me successful is being able to put my work out there. The reality is this is not an easy thing to do, as once we put our work out there, it opens the door for the critics. However, if you never put anything out there because you are worried about the critics, you will remain worried about them for a lifetime!
Brené also describes the importance of Marble Jar Friends. For those of you who are teachers, this Marble Jar analogy is likely jumping off the page, because I sure had a marble jar in my classroom when I was a classroom teacher! Brené discusses how her daughter’s teacher uses the marble in her classroom. Students, individually or collectively, can earn marbles for the jar by behaving well, being helpful and all that fun stuff that we love to see in schools. Marbles were lost whenever the class was acting out, breaking rules or not listening. Brené shares that she used the marble jar to teach her daughter an important lesson after she felt betrayed by a friend. Brené encouraged her daughter to think of friendships as marble jars. Whenever someone is kind and supportive, marbles are added to the jar. On the other hand whenever someone is mean or betrays trust, marbles are removed from the jar. She told her daughter to think of her marble jar friends; the friends who have invested many marbles in her jar. She asked her what her marble jar friends looked like to her.
What do your marble jar friends look like? It is not uncommon to feel as though there is no need for connection and that you are going to run the course alone. The reality is as humans we thrive on human connection. We often shy away from it because of past experiences, but it is important not to give up on it. Taking off our armor, with our marble jar friends, allows us to open up and ‘Dare Greatly.’ The support of marble jar friends can help us reach higher levels in our personal and professional lives. Therefore, I encourage you to ask yourself, who are your marble jar friends? Take a break from analyzing the critics, they are not going away…I promise you. Take stock of those who are in your corner no matter what and with whom you can take off your armor, in order to help you be at your best.