Brene Brown on Shame and Resilience

Brene Brown on Shame and Resilience

There’s good reason why Brene Brown’s June 2010 TED talk on Vulnerability has had, as of this posting, 10.5 million views and her March 2012 TED talk on Listening to Shame has had almost 3 million.  Brene speaks to our deepest fears about our deepest fears – of being criticized or rejected, of not fitting in or not belonging, or being a failure or not good enough – while teaching how our vulnerability – being all in – can become the gateway to our truest strengths – courage, compassion, connection – and our highest dreams – of authenticity, creativity, and innovation.

Her first book, I Thought It Was Just Me, describes the results of her six years of research on shame and empathy, leading to a model of shame resilience that acknowledges the swamp of not good enough we sometimes (often!) find ourselves in and offers tools to come to the resilience we deserve to live from.

Her second book, The Gifts of Imperfection, focuses on the qualities of being wholehearted that all resilient people have and that her recognition that she didn’t have (she had two out of ten) led to what she eloquently describes as her nervous breakdown – midlife unraveling – spiritual awakening.  The book skillfully deepens the ideas she presented in her first TED talk

Her third book, Daring Greatly, deepens the ideas she presented in her second TED talk, debunks the myth that vulnerability equals weakness, and expands the research on shame/resilience and wholeheartedness into leadership in parenting, education and business.

Brene’s teachings about shame-resilience leading to  courage, compassion and connection resonate deeply with the focus of these e-newsletters on conscious, compassionate connection leading to resilience and well-being.  Brene writes in a down-home, wickedly humorous style like the 5th-generation Texan she is; reading her is like sharing a cup of tea with your new best friend.   May these reflections be useful to you and yours.


Brene conducts her research at the University of Texas – Houston.  The definition of shame she uses in her interviews: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.  Because we are hard-wired for connection, the isolation, loneliness and heartache we can experience from disconnection can be unbearable.  Shame is correlated with the most difficult of psychological experiences: anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders, bullying, violence, suicide.  Connection, empathic connection, is the direct and powerful antidote to shame.

Brene’s model of shame resilience that she developed in I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from What Will People Think to I Am Enough has 4 elements.

1. Recognizing shame and understanding the triggers.  Shame is biology and biography.  Can you physically recognize when you’re in the grips of shame, feel your way through it and figure out what messages and expectations triggered it?

2.  Practicing Critical Awareness.  Can you reality-check the messages and expectations that are driving your shame?  Are they realistic?  Attainable?  Are they what you want to be or what you think others need/want from you?

3.  Reaching Out.  Are you owning and sharing your story?  We can’t experience empathy if we’re not connecting.

4.  Speaking Shame.  Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame?

Brene has researched well the cultural expectations that can trigger “not good enough.”  Shame is a universal experience, but Brene found that what triggers the experience is determined by gender.  For women, a host of unrealistic expectations, especially to be perfect, to please, to perform, or to be small, sweet, and quiet; for men, it boils down to one: don’t be weak.

According to research Brene cites from Dr. Linda Hartling, a relational-cultural theorist at the Stone Center at Wellesley and now director of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, shame causes  some of us move away from others by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets.  Some of us move toward others by seeking to appease and please.  Some of us move against others by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using blame to fight shame.  All are strategies of disconnecting from the pain of shame that disconnects us from others and our authentic selves.

Resilience is seen as the ability to overcome adversity, to cope with stress and trauma in a way that allows some people to move forward in their lives, while other people appear more affected and stuck. Brene found that the belief that one is worthy of love is an essential factor in resilience. Brene describes what she means by shame resilience [described in later writing as Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training]:

“By shame resilience I mean the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values, and to come out the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection that we had going into it…If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.  Self-compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept – it happens between people – it also heals best between people.  A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm.  Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy.”

In The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene offers ten guideposts to wholehearted living – living with love, belonging, and being enough. All ten chapters are based on coding data from thousands of interviews of people who live wholeheartedly (“a story is data with soul”) and offers practical suggestions to address what gets in the way of that particular quality of wholeheartedness.

Even the chapter titles are illuminating:

1.  Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think

2.  Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

3.  Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

4.  Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

5.  Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

6.  Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison

7.  Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

8.  Cultivating Calm and Stillness:  Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

9.  Cultivating  Meaningful Work:  Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”

10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and Always in Control

Each of these cultivations and each of these letting go’s could be a TED talk unto itself, or an entire book.  (And many previous e-newsletters.)

I’ll elaborate on just one: Guidepost #7: Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth.

Brene grew up in the same workaholic, competitive, comparative, conforming culture than many of us did, hyper aware of lack and not good enough, and did not grow up in a family/culture that valued play.

“I remember telling one of my colleagues, “These Wholehearted people fool around a lot.”  She laughed and asked, “Fool around? How?”

I shrugged, “I don’t know.  They have fun and ….I don’t know what you call it.  They hang out and do fun things.”

She looked confused.  “Like what kind of fun things?  Hobbies?  Crafts? Sports?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “Kinda like that but not so organized.  I’m going to have to dig around some more.”

Now I look back on that conversation and think, How did I not know what I was seeing?  Was I so personally removed from this concept that I couldn’t recognize it?

It’s play!  A critically important component of Wholehearted living is play!

Research the concept of play got off to a rocky start.  I learned this very quickly: Do not Google “Adult play.”  I was closing pornography pop-ups so fast it was like playing Whac-A-Mole.

Once I recovered from that search disaster, I was lucky enough to find the work of Dr. Stuart Brown.  Dr. Brown is a psychiatrist, clinical researcher, and founder of the National Institute for Play.  He is also the author of a wonderful book titled Play: How Its Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

Drawing on his own research, as well as the latest advances in biology, psychology, and neurology, Brown explains that play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy, helps us navigate complex social groups,, and is at the core of creativity and innovation.  Brown writes:

‘The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.  Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work.  It can bring back excitement and newness to our job.  Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process.  Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work.  In the long run, work does not work without play.’

In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene reviews the findings and models of the first two books. Essentially: because the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional, vulnerability is not weakness but engagement, being all in.  Engaging with our universally human fear of failure and disappointment, fears of not being good enough in our highly comparative and competitive culture, is what can lead to the depth of courage and clarity of purpose we need to come fully alive, fully who we authentically are.  We let go of perfect and bulletproof, open to being unguarded, uncertain, leaning into discomfort, not knowing yet deeply trusting, risking, connection by sharing as we stumble and learn.

Brene then expands the usefulness of vulnerability to parenting, education, and business.  (One shocking factoid: 37% of the U.S. workforce has experienced bullying on the job.)

My own reflections in general from reading the books and re-viewing the TED talks:

1.  There’s no getting-out-of-vulnerability free card; uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure are inherent in the human condition.

2.  Vulnerability is facing fears, developing shame resilience, showing up and risking connection, “being all in” with our experience, recovering our courage, compassion and connection with our authentic self along the way.

3.  We cultivate a true sense of worthiness and a true sense of belonging from taking the risks to become our authentic selves rather than hustling for worthiness by being perfect, performing, pleasing, from sharing our authentic selves – even the dark, messy parts – with those who have earned the right to hear our story, and from taking in the love and connection based on being seen and heard for who we really are.

4.  When we live from a place of worthiness in who we truly are, and step into engagement of life wholeheartedly, we recover our courage, meaning and purpose of life.

Poetry and Quotes to Inspire

The title of Brene Brown’s third book, Daring Greatly, comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on “Citizenship in a Republic,” given at the Sorbonne in Paris, April 23, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong

man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….

* * * * *

Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure prone.  Otherwise it would be called sure-thing taking.
– Tim McMahon

* * * * *

Often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

* * * * *

Daring greatly is not about winning or losing.  It’s about courage.  In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive.  Uncomfortable.  It’s even a little dangerous at times.  And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt.  But nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

* * * * *

To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.
– e.e. cummings

* * * * *

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
– Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

* * * * *

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day.
A string of such moments can change the course of your life.
– Christopher Germer

* * * * *

When we were children we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable.  But to grow up is to accept vulnerability.  To be alive is to be vulnerable.
– Madeleine L’Engle

* * * * *

There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen

* * * * *

Don’t ask what the worlds needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
– Howard Thurman

* * * * *

What we know matters, but who we are matters more.
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

* * * * *

Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.  The people who love me and will be there regardless of the outcome are within arm’s reach.  They weren’t in the bleachers at all.  They were with me in the arena.  Fighting for me and with me.  This realization changed everything.
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

* * * * *

Dance like no one is watching.  Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt and live like it’s heaven on Earth.
– William Purkey

* * * * *


“I’m not very creative” doesn’t work.  There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people.  There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t.  Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.  The only unique contribution that we will every make in this world will be born of our creativity.  As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.
– Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

* * * * *


The secret killer of innovation is shame.  You can’t measure it, but it is there.  Every time someone holds back on a new idea, fails to give their manager much needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client, you can be sure shame played a part.  That deep fear we all have of being wrong, of being belittled and feeling less than, is what stops us taking the very risks required to move our companies forward.

If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams.  And this, paradoxically perhaps, requires first that they are vulnerable themselves.  This notion that the leader needs to be “in charge” and to “know all the answers” is both dated and destructive.  Its impact on others is the sense that they know less, and that they are less than.  A recipe for risk aversion if I ever have heard of it.  Shame becomes fear.  Fear leads to risk aversion.  Risk aversion kills innovation.
Peter Sheahan, CEO of ChangeLabs

* * * * *


Most of us would love a color-coded parenting handbook that answers all of our unanswerable questions, comes with guarantees, and minimizes our vulnerability.  We want to know that if we follow certain rules or adhere to the method espoused by a certain parenting expert, our children will sleep through the night, be happy, make friends, achieve professional success, and stay safe.  The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror.

Ironically, parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children.  After all, we rarely engage in self-righteous judgment when we feel confident about our decisions.  I’m not going to practically knock myself unconscious with a shaming eye roll about your nonorganic milk if I feel good about what I’m feeding my children.  But if doubt lurks beneath my choices, that self-righteous critic will spring to life in not-so-subtle parenting moments that happen because my underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I’m better than you.

Somewhere buried deep inside our hopes and fears for our children is the terrifying truth that there is no such thing as perfect parenting and there are no guarantees.  From debates about attachment parenting and how much better they parent in Europe to disparagement of “tiger moms” and helicopter parents, the heated discussions that occupy much of the national parenting conversation conveniently distract us from this important and difficult truth: Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do that than what we know about parenting.      We help our children understand, leverage, and appreciate their hardwiring and how we teach them resilience in the face of relentless “never enough” cultural messages by honestly answering: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”  We want to raise children who live and love with their whole hearts.
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

* * * * *


“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Stories to Learn From

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene tells her own story.  That her chosen/conditioned approach to life – work hard, be perfect, be who people needed/expected her to be, work harder, accomplish what was expected of her  – didn’t jive with her research data she was accumulating from people who were living wholesome and wholehearted, resilient and contented lives, engaging their lives from a place of worthiness.  That cognitive dissonance between what she deeply (and rigidly) believed was true, and what she was having to face as a researcher  was even truer, led to what she still honestly, courageously refers to a as a nervous breakdown, an unraveling of the assumptions and beliefs that led through therapy and a spiritual awakening to her shared, common and vulnerable humanity.  Three among the many stories  she tells in her writings:

Shame resilience:

One day a woman worked up the courage to tell her neighbor that she was a recovering alcoholic, only to have her neighbor say, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with my kids playing at your house anymore.”  This brave woman told me that she pushed through her fear and said, “But they’ve played here for two years, and I’ve been sober for twenty years.  I’m not any different than I was ten minutes ago.  Why are you?”

Wholehearted Parenting:

When Ellen was in fourth grade, she came home from school one day and burst into tears as soon as she shut the front door, then ran up to her room.  I immediately followed, then knelt down in front of her and asked her what was wrong.  Through her sniffles she said, I’m so tired of being the other!  I’m sick of it!”

I didn’t understand, so I asked her to explain what she meant by “the other.”

“We play soccer every day at recess.  Two popular kids are the captains and they pick the teams.  The first captain says, ‘I’ll take Suzie, John, Pete, Robin, and Jake.’  The second captain says, ‘I’ll take Andrew, Steve, Katie, and Sue, and we can split the others.’  Every single day I’m one of the others.  I never get to be named.”

My heart sank.  She was sitting on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands.  I was so concerned when I followed her into her room that I hadn’t even flipped on the light.  I couldn’t stand the vulnerability of seeing her sitting in the dark crying, so I walked over to the light switch.  It was divine intervention – the act of starting to turn on the lights to alleviate my own discomfort made me think of my favorite quote about darkness and compassion from Pena Chodron, who writes:  “Compassion is a not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

I left the light switch alone and walked back to sit with Ellen in the literal and emotional dark. I put my arm around her should and said, “I know what it’s like to be the other.”

She wiped her nose on the back of her hand and said, “No, you don’t.  You’re really popular.”

I explained that I really do know what it feels like.   I told her, “When I feel like the other, I get angry and hurt, and I mostly feel small and lonely.  I don’t need to be popular, but I want people to recognize me and treat me like I matter.  Like I belong.”

She couldn’t believe it.  “You do know!  That’s exactly how I feel!”

We snuggled on her bed, and she told me about her recess experiences, and I told her about some of my experiences in school when otherness was both powerful and painful.

About two weeks later, we were both at home when the mail arrived.  I ran to the door with great anticipation.  I was scheduled to speak at a star-studded event, and I was dying to see the publicity poster.  It seems weird now, but I was so excited at the idea of seeing my photo next to the pictures of the movie stars.  I sat down on the couch with the poster, I unrolled it, and I started scanning like a madwoman.  Just as I was doing this, Ellen walked in and said, “Cool!  Is that your poster?  Let me see!”

As she walked over to the couch, she could tell my mood had changed from anticipating to disappointment.  “What’s wrong, Mom?”

I patted the couch and she sat down next to me.  I held the poster open, and she traced the pictures with her finger. “I don’t see you.  Where are you?”

I pointed to a line on the poster under the celebrity photos that said, “And others.”

Ellen leaned back against the sofa cushions, put her head on my shoulder, and said, ‘Oh, Mom, I think you’re the others.  I’m sorry.”

I didn’t reply right away.  I was feeling small both because there was no picture and for caring that there was no picture.  Ellen leaned forward, looked at me, and said, “I know what that feels like.  When I’m the other, I feel hurt and small and lonely.  We all want to matter and belong.”

It turned out to be one of the best moments of my life.  We may not always have a sense of belonging on the recess playground or at a big, fancy conference, but in that moment we knew that we belonged where it mattered the most – at home.  Parenting perfection is not the goal. In fact, the best gifts – the best teaching moments – happen in those imperfect moments when we allow children to help us mind the gap [between how we want to live and how we are actually living.]

On how research evolves:

For the first four years of my study on shame, I focused solely on women.  At that time many researchers believed, and some today still believe, that men and women’s experiences of shame are different.  I was concerned that if I combined the data from men and women, I’d miss some of the important nuances of their experiences.  That I opted to just interview women, I confess, was partially due to my mind-set that when it came to worthiness, women were the ones struggling.  At some level, I also think my resistance was based on an intuitive sense that interviewing men would be like stumbling into a new and strange world.

As it turns out, it was definitely a strange new world – a world of unspoken hurt.  I got a glimpse into that world in  2005 at the end of one of my lectures.  A tall, thin man who I’d guess was in his early sixties followed his wife to the front of the room.  He was wearing a yellow Izod golf sweater – an image I’ll never forget.  I spoke with his wife for a few minutes as I signed a stack of books that she’d bought for herself and her daughters.  As she started to walk away, her husband turned to her and said, “I’ll be right there – give me a minute.”

She clearly didn’t want him to stay and talk to me.  She tried coaxing him with a couple of “c’mons,” but he didn’t budge.  I, of course, was thinking, Go with her, dude.  You’re scaring me.  After a few unsuccessful attempts she walked toward the back of the room, and he turned to face me at my book-signing table.

It started innocently enough.  “I like what you have to say about shame,” he told me.  “It’s interesting.”

I thanked him and waited – I could tell there was more coming.

He leaned in closer and asked, “I’m curious.  What about men and shame?  What have you learned about us?”

I felt instant relief.  This wasn’t going to take long because I didn’t know much.  I explained,” I haven’t done many interviews with men.  I just study women.”

He nodded and said, “Well.  That’s convenient.”

I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up in defense.  I forced a smile and asked, “Why convenient?” in the very high voice that I use when I’m uncomfortable.  He replied by asking me if I really wanted to know.  I told him yes, which was a half-truth.  I was on my guard.

Then his eyes welled up with tears.  He said “We have shame.  Deep shame.  But when we reach out and share our stories, we get the emotional shit beat out of us.”  I struggled to maintain eye contact with him.  His raw pain had touched me, but I was still trying to protect myself.  Just as I was about to make a comment about how hard men are on each other, he said, “Before you say anything about those mean coaches, bosses, brothers, and fathers being the only ones…”  He pointed toward the back of the room where his wife was standing and said, “My wife and daughters – the ones you signed all of those books for – they’d rather see me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall off.  You say you want us to be vulnerable and real, but c’mon.  You can’t stand it.  It makes you sick to see us like that.”

Holding my breath, I had this very visceral reaction to what he was saying.  It hit me the way only truth can.  He let out a long sigh, and as quickly as he had begun, he said, “That’s all I wanted to say.  Thanks for listening.”  Then he just walked away.

I had spent years researching women and hearing their stories of struggle.  In that moment, I realized that men have their own stories and that if we’re going to find our way out of shame, it will be together.  And now that I’ve spent years studying men as well as women, I’ve come to believe that men and women are equally affected by shame.  The messages and expectations that fueled shame are most definitely organized by gender, but the experience of shame is universal and deeply human.

Exercises to Practice

Brene offers more paths of practice than specific exercises per se.  One of her mantras is to say every morning:

No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. And every evening:

Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

And another: Don’t shrink.  Don’t puff up.  Stand on your own sacred ground.

Yet another:  I’m feeling vulnerable.  That’s okay.  What I feel grateful for in this moment is…..

This kind of self-talk is not “in every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”  This is finding the courage, compassion, and connection to be resilient even while vulnerable, to find the doorway to being wholehearted and “all in.”

Brene does suggest, if you regularly create To Do lists, create a Joy and Meaning list as well, and refer to it as often as you refer to the To Do (or Could Be Done) list.

Brene offers several checklists in her books that are freely downloadable from her website.  Among them are her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto and Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto.  Here is her Engaged Feedback Checklist:

I know I’m ready to give feedback when:

I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you;

I’m willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us or sliding it to you;

I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue;

I want to acknowledge what you do well instead of picking apart your mistakes;

I recognize our strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges;

I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you;

I’m willing to own my part;

I can genuinely thank you for your efforts rather than criticize you for your failings;

I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to your growth and opportunity; and

I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.


2010 TED Talk on Vulnerability; the original 20-minute TED-X Houston talk in front of 500 people has now had 10.5 million views.

2012 TED Talk on Listening to Shame has had almost 3 million views to date.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from What Will People Think to I Am Enough by Brene Brown, PhD, MSW (Gotham 2007)

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are:  Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life by Brene Brown, PhD, MSW. (Hazelden, 2010)

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.  (Gotham, 2012)

www.brenebrown.com free downloads of materials from her books, book club guides, blog and more.

Wisdom & inspiration direct to your inbox