Your courage is contagious. This is the first of many thought provoking statements in Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong. Known for her TED Talk on Vulnerability, viewed millions of times, Brené presents her 12 years of research through personal and shared stories to enable us to understand how to rewrite our past and future.
Using her relationship with her husband, Brené generously explores how they dealt with an issue, identifying the use of her simple yet tremendous process to overcome her mistakes, hurt and how she rose from this fall.
Her Rising Strong process which she has practised to become a practice (think habit) engages her feelings, requires curiosity with the story behind the feeling and how these are connected to thoughts and behaviour which she sees acted out. It’s rather simple, yet takes courage like no other courage. These are the toughest three steps:
1. Reckoning – being in tune with our emotions, knowing when our worth is off kilter and realise that the connection from our feelings to our thoughts results in our behaviour
2. Rumble – we then show curiosity by questioning ourselves and get honest with the stories we’ve made up about why we feel the way we do and potentially why we want to disown the story
3. Revolution – finally we take the step to transform our self by rewriting our story, learning and changing. This step rarely happens as it’s the courageous step – there’s no going back!
Like the learnings in other books I’ve been reading, our brains release of cortisol and oxytocin is encouraged by storytelling. We are wired for story – whether it’s in our head or with others. However, these stories, with inadequate data, can be a false account of what happened. How many times do we fill the void with what we think happened or what the other person is thinking and feeling? I suspect we do this all the time.
To correct this behaviour, Brené recommends a rewrite of our stories. To commence this process, start with your SFD - a Shitty First Draft! The first of many drafts until we tell the real story. This will probably involve talking to others, being curious, asking questions to retrieve hard data.
Beyond the words on each page, there is a self-help manual for those (I suspect most of us) who need to know how to rise strong. However, I know we are not strong and are better at being excuse makers so we’re not prepared to change unless faced with adversity.
Here are three practices Brené recommends, to help us be brave, fall and rise strong:
Write our stories, even if its bullet points – capture what happened to create a map. To solve the problem we need to identify the problem. By collecting stories we might be able to join the dots between experiences to locate the common denominator.
Set boundaries with people – tell others what is OK and what is not OK. This works for our children and definitely for us adults – we work well when there is a framework. It’s when people step over these boundaries that our worth is affected and our emotions erupt. On the other hand, you can write yourself a Permission Slip to allow yourself to experience other emotions. The key lesson is to heighten our awareness of our emotions – which differentiates us from other beings.
Establish Accountability – if we are clear about responsibilities and outcomes and we live to these then trust is created. Trust and accountability go hand in hand; in the workplace, these two factors are the backbone of our culture and strong relationships. Practising accountability enables us to apologize and make amends rather than blame.
There are many other tools held in this book with some specifically for leaders and their teams, these include: a series of questions to ask to help you and your team to work with your SFDs which identify the stories we make up in the workplace, the BRAVING model to build a culture of trust in your team and the Five R’s (Respect, Rumble, Rally, Recover and Reach Out) which is the model of how Brené and her team work together.
This is a tough book to read however it’s well worth the effort. I found myself writing copious notes as I know the stories I create in my head and in particular, the stories my clients make in their head and in particular, the stories the team members have created. I’m looking forward to helping these clients apply the Rising Strong process to create new practices in their workplace.