Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In this TED video, she discusses the importance of humans forming connections and what prevents us from forming these connections.
What does this have to do with leadership? At the heart of effective leadership is relationship. It is necessary for great leaders to connect with their followers. What prevents us from forming these connections? According to Dr. Brown, we are afraid that we are not enough and will be rejected if we try to connect with another person. However, being willing to take the risk is necessary.
People who are most successful at forming connections believe they are worthy of love and belonging and are able to take occasional rejections in stride. They have courage, compassion and connection. It is necessary to embrace being vulnerable because it is the birthplace of joy, creativity and love.
When we attempt to numb feelings of hurt, pain and rejection, we also numb feelings of joy, hope and gratitude. If we want to feel the "positive" emotions, we have to be willing to feel the "negative" ones.
Think about ways in which you have avoided making connections in an attempt to sidestep feelings of shame and discomfort. What has it cost you? How can you acknowledge and move past these feelings in order to live more fully?