I don’t know about you, but when it's cold, damp and rainy, it’s Netflix time! That was the case this past weekend. I watched the newly released Brené Brown Netflix Special: The Call to Courage, where she talks about bravery, vulnerability, and courage to take risks in your personal and professional life. Its only 60 minutes and I highly recommend it!
If you're not familiar with Brené Brown, she is a research professor at the University of Houston. She spent more than a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brown is the author of five New York Times bestsellers with her latest being Dare to Lead. Her 2010 TED Talk called The Power of Vulnerability became a viral sensation and is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 40 million views.
In today’s world of content marketing and social media...who wouldn’t kill to be a viral sensation?
So, I was shocked when Brené shared how the success of the TED Talk was her worst fears coming true. As a self-proclaimed extreme introvert afraid of shame and criticism, the TedTalk video “Hater’ comments were everything she feared. The first comment, “Less research, more Botox”, next comment, “Of course she embraces imperfection. What choice would you have if you look like her?”, and the next comment, “She should wait and talk about vulnerability when she loses 15 pounds.”
She described the feelings of shame as “If you walked out of a room that was filled with people who know you. They start saying such hurtful things about you and you don’t know that you can ever walk back in - and face them again in your life.”
Purposely Engineered Smallness
Paralyzed by her feeling of fear and shame, Brené went on a binge, watching Downton Abbey and she Googled who was the US President during the time period of the show to distract herself from the pain. The first thing that popped up was a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It’s not the critic who counts, it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done it different. The credit belongs to the person who’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again and again and who in the end, while he may know the triumph of high achievement, at least when he fails, he does so daring greatly.”
Brown says reading the Roosevelt quote was a “God Moment” and changed her life. She realized the fear of shame and criticism was so great in her life up until the point of the release of her YouTube video that it was paralyzing. She purposely engineered smallness in her life. She did not take chances or put herself out there. For example, if she was going to write an Op-Ed, she would send it to the Chronicle, not the New York Times. She felt it wasn’t worth it to step into her power to ‘Play Big’, because she didn’t think she could physically withstand the criticism.
Hmmm…. how many of us ‘play small’ to avoid the fear of being criticized or shamed?
Watching Brené talk about her fear of being criticized, this really hit home for me! Growing up, I struggled with reading and writing. I received reading services when I was in school. A teacher once told my mom that I was bright but didn’t apply myself. And that got translated to, I wasn’t good at writing and not as smart as other people. It wasn’t until I was 38 years old and met my husband who was a learning disability teacher at the time that I realized I was dyslexic. Which explains why I had such difficulty writing and reading.
I now see that crazy loop playing in my head, ‘I’m not a good writer’ has held me back from publishing articles or guest blogging. When, in fact, I’m extremely good at it and enjoy identifying topics, simplifying complex information, messaging, and extracting nuggets of rich information from talking and listening to industry experts to create various types of content. It just takes me longer to write and I need to use technology, such as SEMRush and Grammarly, and work with a great editor who can catch errors I would not notice due to dyslexia.
How to Play Big
So, how can you Play Big in your life? Here’s just a sample of Brown’s advice. Her full talk, Brené Brown: The Call to Courage, is streaming now on Netflix.
Live in the Arena
“If you are brave with your life, you choose to live in the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked, and you’re going to know failure”, as Brown says in the Netflix Special. To live in the arena is to be vulnerable. We have to remember being vulnerable is not a weakness.
To be brave means to have the courage to take chances and risks in your life. You may experience fear, shame, criticism, and failure but at least you can be proud you had the courage to try. Brené has a daily affirmation that says to herself, “Today, I’ll choose courage over comfort. I can’t make commitments for tomorrow, but today I’m going to choose to be brave, and I know what that means.” To be brave means to have the courage to take risks.
Ignore the Cheap Seats
We see on a daily basis on social media, there are millions of cheap seats in the world, filled with people who’ll never put themselves out there, but they will make it their full-time job to hurl criticism and judgment and really hateful things toward us. I think Brené makes a really good point and says, “You just have to step over it and keep on going. You can’t take criticism and feedback from people who are not being brave with their lives, because it will crush you.” She goes on to say, “Solicit feedback from the people that do give you good feedback. And you know who makes that list? I’ll tell you who should make the list: People who like you, not despite your imperfections and vulnerability, but because of your imperfections and vulnerability.”
Ask for Help
As the founder of Play Big Content and someone with dyslexia, I’ve had a lot of founders and CEOs of small B2B companies tell me they would like to use content marketing to grow their business, but it’s the fear of writing that stops them to ‘play big’. I get it! But what you need to remember is that even New York Times bestselling authors have collaborators and teams who help them write. So, if the fear of writing is what stops you from content marketing and generating leads, I know how to help!