April 23, 2020

“That bugs the crap outta me.” Brené Brown, in a March 29, 2020 interview with Bill Whitaker for CBS 60 Minutes, declares it really bothers her that her books are grouped into the self-help genre.

Brown is a professor at The University of Houston, visiting professor of management at The University of Texas Austin, and has a Ph.D. in social work. Rather than remaining embedded in academia, Brown has taken her enormous amount of research and data and planted it in popular culture. She makes her life’s work of research on human behavior and emotion an everyday topic, available and relatable to the public.  She has written several best-sellers, including Dare to Lead and Rising Strong, hosts a blog, and has just launched a podcast, Unlocking Us.

Maybe stories are just data with a soul. ~ Brené Brown, in her first TedEx Talk: The Power of Vulnerability in Houston, 2010

Although her topics range from embracing who you are, to building resilience and finding the courage to lead, Brown insists self-help is not the desirable perspective.

I don’t think we’re supposed to help ourselves. I think we’re supposed to help each other. I mean, I don’t think we’re supposed to do it alone… We were never meant to. We are neuro-biologically hardwired to be in connection with other people. (CBS 60 Minutes)

Brown’s message feels ever-more important in today’s world of social-distancing. In her blog post dated March 21, 2020, Brown introduces her audience to FFTs (effing first times) and reminds us how hard it is to be new at something. We’re all new at global pandemics and, right now, we’re existing in a current stage of normal which keeps us physically removed from our connections. Brown uses her science and her experience to help us navigate:

This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other. (brenebrown.com/blog)

Brown knows that although we cannot be together, we need each other now more than ever. Whether it’s personally, professionally, or in our new roles in at-home education, we need support, collaboration and connectivity.