What Can Brene Brown’s Work Mean for the Modern Man?

It’s a name I’ve been hearing a lot about over the last year or so, and I’m somehow just getting to her Ted Talk. Part of me resists things in pop culture that seem too obvious and popular – the individualist in me, I suppose. Nonetheless, lots of people I really respect have been raving, so it was time I get over myself and learn something! And what I found may excite men everywhere.

1. “Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage” – So easy to read, right? But really so not the reality for most modern men. So many of us have grown up with the implicit message that to be ourselves is mostly not okay. And the hardest part about this is that we don’t get this message with direct compassionate dialogue, but more often through passive-aggressive and aggressive behaviors that lead to pain, embarrassment, and shame. The first and sometimes most important sense of belonging young boys long for is with other boys. If boys can gain acceptance in that club, this is often their first validation from the world. So, right from the start, boys are highly pressured into conformist thinking and behavior in exchange for social approval. Not exactly “be your own man” belief systems at work!

2. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, change, and productivity” – We need to re-frame the concept of “risk-taking” as an external into “risk-being” as a way of showing up. Imagine how many great ideas are never shared due to the fear of judgment, shame, and perceived failure?! Yet, as Brown supports empirically, most of us know intuitively, that when others reveal themselves it gives us permission to do the same.

The biggest takeaway from Brene Brown’s talks and ideas, is that what we have to say is not necessarily as impactful to others as our energy behind it. Most of my colleagues have echoed that Brown is not developing any new ideas here…then why is she a global phenomenon?! It’s because she is living her words. She’s using herself as the model for the concepts and ideas she brings, letting the audience in to her fears, self-talk, and flaws. Think of the heroes you most connect with in your favorite stories. Chances are, they are more like you than not. We gain strength, confidence, and hope from seeing “real” people be as real as we’d like to be!

So, for today’s man, who secretly wants the strength to be this kind of vulnerable, but isn’t sure how to access it, remember that you are only as strong as you are willing to risk.