November 18, 2015

Dr. Brené Brown defines her career-self as “researcher and storyteller.” More formally, she is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and she has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She is a brilliant author on the same subjects, having written three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising StrongDaring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

I often reference Brown’s insights in my consulting and coaching work, as her perspectives on truth and courage are closely connected to my passion for more candor. Brown has coined inspiring phrases such as “I choose authenticity,” and “courage over comfort.” Candor calls for us to be authentic – and to demand authenticity from those around us. And candor requires courage – it is rarely a comfortable conversation, but we fail if we step away because we aren’t brave enough to stay in it.

Recently, Brown was interviewed by TIME Magazine and she made a profound statement:

Shame needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence and judgment. ~ Dr. Brené Brown, TIME Magazine

Shame feels like a big, scary word. However, its adverse effect on candor cannot be ignored. Shame holds us back and stalls our success. If we are too ashamed to admit failure, we (and others) cannot learn from our mistakes, solve problems, and create solutions.

We’re handling failure with a lot of lip service. You’ve got the “fail conferences” and #FailForward. We’re still trying to spit-shine failure. When failure doesn’t hurt, it’s not failure. If you’re a leader who wants to be helpful around failure, then stand in front of your team and say, “We failed, and this is what it felt like. ~ Dr. Brené Brown, TIME Magazine

How do we overcome shame? Brown encourages us to embrace vulnerability – to live authentically, to admit failure, to be truthful in ways that show our weaknesses and faults.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. ~ Dr. Brené Brown,

Vulnerability sounds a lot like candor, too.