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Being In The Arena

Brené Brown. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? She is the Ted Talk dominating, shame researching, five best-seller authoring powerhouse that is teaching everyone about vulnerability, courage and leadership. Her Netflix special, “Brené Brown: The Call to Courage” is another installment in Brené Brown’s mission to bring vulnerability and courage to today’s leadership. And though the thought of being purposefully vulnerable in the workplace gives most people pause, Brené Brown’s mission to help us to be courageous is one that belongs in every office.

One of the most important aspects Brené Brown’s message is to encourage and support people to be “in the arena” and when it comes to your work life, that means speaking up and daring to effect change. If you aren’t already endowed with the responsibility to make changes in your office, speaking up can be an intimidating prospect. There are some methods you can use to help you get in the arena.

  1. Find common ground. Understanding the needs of the company and, specifically, your supervisor, will help you pitch your ideas in a way that show its added value to your supervisor and the company as whole. If you present your goal as a fully self-centered idea, it’s less likely to be heard. That’s where aligning yourself with the needs of the company and your boss can help you get your point across. Huge note here- it does NOT mean being a bootlicker. No one likes that and it’s basically the opposite of being brave. What it does mean is to let down your guard – be vulnerable- and try to understand situations with whole-hearted compassion. You may find that the first step to change begins at your desk.

  2. Share the Journey – Now that you’ve convinced your supervisor that a change needs to be made, make sure to share your fully realized vision with her. Be specific about implementation and consequence. The willingness to be open about your plans will inspire your teammates to participate in the process and establish their confidence in you as a leader.

  3. Be Flexible – Even if you KNOW your idea is the groundbreaking thought that will fix every problem your company has ever known, stay flexible and open to changes and constructive criticism. Even with all of the data firmly in hand, you can’t anticipate every obstacle. If you stay flexible and willing to listen to those who are equally invested in the process, you are more likely to overcome challenges to get to your big-picture goal.

Vulnerability is scary. No matter who you are or what you do, opening yourself up to failure and criticism is a hard choice to make, and one that might feel too difficult or risky when it comes to your career. But as Brené Brown says in her special, without vulnerability you cannot be creative and without a willingness to fail, you cannot innovate. So, raise your hand. Speak your mind. Be scared and do it anyway. Be brave.


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