Peanut Butter & Downton Abbey

May 6, 2019

It’s no secret us Inkies are big fans of Brené Brown. She shows up in our blog posts (here and here, to name a few) and even helped inform our recent effort to update our values (read about them here). So we were all atwitter when we heard about her new Netflix special called, "Brené Brown: The Call To Courage."

Long story short, I loved it. It was a master class on storytelling, public speaking and authenticity, and showcased a few of my most loved examples and stories from the straight-shootin’ Texas-born shame researcher herself.  

I loved the story about the ups and downs of her suddenly public career. She went from sudden TED talk fame to a shame spiral after reading online comments at the bottom of that same TED talk. Then in a self-soothing, peanut butter and Downton Abbey fueled binge, she stumbled upon the Theodore Roosevelt quote that shifted the trajectory of her outlook and approach forever.  

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

It also got me thinking about why a group of professional internal communicators and employee experience geeks are so drawn to Dr. Brown’s messages. Sure, we probably spend more time than most thinking about stories, resonance, resilience and how to inspire. Yet, there seems to be more to it.  

My office-chair theory is this: We spend a lot of time finding ways to infuse honesty, humanity and authenticity into our work. And we jump for joy when we see another like-minded soul shining a light on the things that hold people back from true connection at work. She encourages us to be honest and kind, to revel in our humanity and to rumble with tough conversations, to be vulnerable and forge meaningful connections with the people around us. With Brené in our corner, we know we can do hard things. And when all else fails, we know how to reach for the peanut butter.

If you haven’t had a chance to read her books, check out her latest, Dare to Lead. You can also check out a recent interview with her and Gwyneth Paltrow on the goop podcast, available here.

Sara Forner Howland

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