In many ways, it’s hard to overstate the influence of charismatic “storyteller researcher” Brené Brown. Her pioneering work on courage, vulnerability and shame has arguably birthed a movement of acceptance about mental health, and has seen her rack up 2.3 million followers across Twitter and Facebook.
It began a TED talk on the power of vulnerability, first delivered to an audience of 500 people in Houston in 2010. Her reflections on the key to human connection went on to amass more than 55 millions views and become one of the top five most-viewed TED talks of all time. A follow-up talk, Listening to Shame, reached almost 20 million views, and led to her becoming the first researcher to have a filmed talk on Netflix with a viral special titled ‘Call to Courage.’.
Brown has written 5 New York Times bestsellers, including The Gifts of Imperfection and Dare to Lead that focus on putting her ideas into practice. She was also recently one of the contributors to a special edition of British Vogue edited by the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, alongside Michelle Obama, conservator Dr Jane Goodall and Jameela Jamil.
“The bottom line: I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck,” she says. “I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is “Courage over comfort.”
Her message is deceptively simple: people must welcome vulnerability in order to connect with other people. But we try to avoid this by making the uncertain certain, or blaming others, or perfecting things that should not and cannot be perfect. Brown says this happens most dangerously with children.
“Our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. Our job is to just keep her perfect and make sure she makes the tennis team by 5th grade and Yale by 7th grade,” she says in her TED Talk.
“That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.
“Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we’ll end the problems that we see today.”
In her day to day life, Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she also holds the ‘Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair.’ She created ‘Brave Leaders Inc’ in 2016 as part of a drive to spend most of her time doing leadership development and culture change work.Tags: Mental Health, research, USA, wellbeing