VULNERABILITY SUCKS…but it’s also the “birthplace of innovation, creativity and change”

Over the past two weeks, we’ve had a friend staying with us who is in early recovery from addiction. It’s been refreshing to talk with him about his new pair of glasses through which he sees himself. It’s also been challenging and rewarding because it’s caused me to look in the mirror and reflect on where I am today, vs. my own early days of recovery. And it’s been reenergizing to learn some fresh perspectives on addiction and recovery. For all of this I’m grateful.

One of the best insights he has given me is how he spends his free time. He doesn’t watch much TV. He plays some games on his iphone for fun. But he also listens to inspirational and motivational speakers from TedTalks and other sources, including audio books. He fills his mind with positive, sometimes game changing ways of thinking about self, community, and the world.

One of the speakers and authors he introduced us too is Brené Brown. Her insights into fear, shame and vulnerability are nothing short of game changing, particular how she ties them to addiction, depression, anxiety and other ills that plague our world today…ills that plague me today.

I’ve included two of her powerful TedTalks. Please, take time to listen to these…

Where these have touched me today have to do with being an entrepreneur – a small business person. Because for me, much of this is new… I was raised by parents who “worked for the man” in large corporations or universities…being a small business owner is new for me… Making a living as a creative photographer and technical consultant is all about change and innovation as I figure out my brand, my unique niche…  Honestly, it’s scary as hell…  (there’s my vulnerability for today…)

I have so much fear of failure, and fear of success, that sometimes I’m paralyzed. And I have failed. Many times. Just today, I was frustrated with a project that has been full of challenges, mistakes, and research…and also one from which I’m learning a lot. If I had been counting, I’ve had at least 27 bumps in the road… But my reaction too often is “I’ve failed…” or worse, “I’m a failure.” (there’s my shame for today…”

This afternoon, I threw up my hands in frustration and said “I quit.”

Then, I was reminded of her TedTalk on shame that I had just watched last night. (Oh, how soon we forget…) Brené reminds me of some truths I’m wrestling with as I throw my hands up and quit...(ok, so I won’t quit…)  

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

“To create is to make something that has never existed before. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that.

You know why [TedTalks] is amazing? Because very few people here are afraid to fail. And no one who gets on the stage, so far that I’ve seen, has not failed. I’ve failed miserably, many times. I don’t think the world understands that, because of shame.”

Brené Brown

So, I guess it’s time for me to put on my big girl panties, put this Edison quote up on my wall, and get back to that damn project. Because I haven’t failed 27 times… This is just a “creative process with 27+ steps…”

As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Here are the two TedTalks I mentioned.  Enjoy…you’ll be uncomfortable and may even want to stop midway through.  But, I promise you – she has powerful (and funny!) insights to share. So please make some time to listen to her…