The Best Friend I Never Met

I’m dedicating this blog post to someone I have never met but who feels like a best friend. She’s the kind of person that puts you at ease almost immediately — in the most authentic way possible. She’s one of those rare people that just makes you want to become a better person for the time spent with her. Who is this remarkable woman? None other than Brene Brown.

I first discovered Brene about five years ago when I stumbled upon her book, The Gifts of Imperfection in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble. The way she wrote, the personal stories she shared just resonated with me — especially at that time when I was treading water in a tempest of vulnerability after a relationship break up. I must have listened a dozen times to her renowned 2005 Ted Talk on vulnerability.

Just a few months ago, Brene Brown celebrated the 10 year anniversary of The Gifts of Imperfection with a special edition that included an inspirational new forward and brand new tools for living a wholehearted life. As I re-read this awesome book, I reflected on how much I have transformed my relationship to myself and to life over these past few years. That got me to thinking about how Brene might be feeling as she looks back on her own personal and career growth since that 2005 Ted Talk.

It’s my guess that Brene never expected the soaring trajectory of her impassioned career. I can almost hear her raucous deep-hearted laugh filling the room when she ponders it. Early on she would say that the easiest way to get people to leave her alone on a plane was to tell them that she studied vulnerability and shame. Today her name is a household word. She hosts two dynamic podcasts (Dare to Lead and Unlocking Us), she has published numerous books, and she has a global following for her innovative Dare to Lead leadership programs.

Watching Brene take all that she was learning about vulnerability, courage and belonging — and really owning it herself was perhaps the most profound teaching that she shared. She was living proof of the transformational power of shedding what doesn’t work and embracing brave new responses to life. She leads us all by example. If you watch her 2005 Ted Talk and then watch her in a 2020 interview, you will see the dramatic, impactful shift in her confidence, her convictions and her enthusiasm.

Many of you know how strongly I feel about the importance of personal growth — it is ongoing work and it keeps us feeling a vital part of our ever evolving world. Change is the only constant — why not embrace it instead of resisting it? There is so much to be gained not only for ourselves but most importantly for others. And this is just where I find Brene’s life purpose path to be the most inspiring.

Brene started her vulnerability research. just six months prior to 9-11. I am sure that she never anticipated that in 2020, she would be a human force field for accepting a cascade of tough realities and forging a path through the uncertainties with open hearts, courage and the willingness to have incredibly hard conversations. Brene’s Unlocking Us podcast aired at the onset of the pandemic in March. From that first episode through the balance of the year, she held our hands and hearts when we were reeling from swirling, competing emotions. She grounded us and challenged us as an effective way to tap into our energy and use it for good. And just when we thought that she couldn’t get better, she did. She launched a second podcast series entitled Dare to Lead. I feel like Brene has literally ripped pages from Malcolm Gladwell’s books and brought them to center stage. She has guests on her two podcasts that are change agents for all the complex issues we face individually and collectively in our country.

Early in her career when she was being introduced to a large audience, she portrayed herself as a storyteller. Brene believes that the human story is the most compelling path to connection and belonging. It comes as no surprise that at the core, both of her podcasts have dynamic guests with personal stories that will take your breath away. When you hear compassionate and impassioned men and women speak from their hearts and their truth about their real life experiences, your perspective will be broadened. Brene delivers exactly what we could all use right now — a fresh perspective seasoned with laughter, pain, struggle and determination. Her podcasts have been the antidote to complacency and helplessness.

If you want to blow your mind about what strength and courage looks like — just remember that she started her career on a foundation of vulnerability.

In spite of all her success, what I most admire about Brene is that she remains true to the most authentic parts of herself. She owns her imperfections, she holds herself accountable and is not afraid to admit a mistake, she refrains from judging others and holds space for them to tell their story. To me, she is a grounded and genuine role model for living a wholehearted life by being her true self. She admits that she puts the work in every single day — she says, “I am not here to be right, I am here to get it right.”

I am ever grateful for Brene Brown and all that I have learned from her personally over these past five years as I too work on being a better, evolving version of my authentic self. With all that she has brought to the table in this most unusual year, I am deeply grateful for her gift of amplifying the transformational, inspirational stories of our fellow human beings in such a positive, energetic and conscientious way.

Check out the many dynamic resources at www. BreneBrown.com

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