When You’re Feeling Vulnerable, Choose Courage

https://www.flickr.com/photos/miikas/109320999/ I’m going to tell a story that’s not my own. It’s one that has affected me deeply and has been a powerful reminder many times, when I’ve been faced with the fear of feeling vulnerable in my life. It’s also a story that embodies what this blog, The New Remarkable, is really about–authenticity, courage, fear, failure, imperfection, challenge, change and as Brené Brown puts it, Daring Greatly. This story  (in my own words) belongs to Brené Brown, who encourages us all to live as our authentic selves.  Brené was getting ready for a work trip. She was with her elementary-school-aged daughter, Ellen and they were running in to Nordstrom so Brené could grab something for the trip. Ellen asks her if they can go to the children’s department to exchange a pair of shoes her grammy had gotten her. Feeling messy and rushed, Brené wanted to say no, but told her daughter, “yes, we’ll do it quickly.” In the children’s department, there were three beautiful women. They were all tall, thin, impeccably dressed with high-heeled boots and not a hair out-of-place. With the three women were their three girls, equally as beautiful. Brené and Ellen walked past them to the children’s shoe department, close by.  There was music playing and while she was picking out shoes for Ellen, Brené noticed a flurry of movement out of the corner of her eye. She looks up and sees Ellen dancing to the music. She was performing her latest dance obsession, the robot, without an ounce of self-consciousness or worry. While Ellen was busy breaking it down in her own world, Brené looks over and sees that the three beautiful mothers had completely stopped what they were doing and we’re just standing there, wide-eyed, with their heads turned towards Ellen. The three beautiful daughters, also focused on Ellen, seemed right on the verge of laughing out loud. In that moment, Brené wanted to say to Ellen, “come on, pull it together–be cool.” But in the back of her mind, she heard a voice that said, “Don’t betray her.” Instead of telling Ellen to stop dancing and move on, Brené looked back at her daughter and, while she admittedly, did not turn and do the moonwalk, she did  bend over and did her own version of the robot and said to her daughter, “awesome moves, have you seen the scarecrow?” I know this story is not my own, but I’ve got hundreds, thousands of instances in my life where I’ve been faced with the decision to “do the robot” or to choose to be someone else; someone not authentically me. Moments like these are not unique to me. On some level, we all experience this pressure nearly every day. But when it’s real to us, that potential vulnerability can feel like weakness. We want our children to feel beautiful as they are, squash that inner critic that we adults listen to too often and for them to make decisions that embody who they are–not who they think they should be. But it’s not about what we want for them–it’s about how we treat ourselves. On a day like today, Halloween, I think about Brown’s reminder to live authentically. Instead of seeing this dress-up day as one where we hide behind the outward masks we chose to wear, we could choose to see ourselves each as that child with the ability to dance like no one is watching. There’s a lot of joy in authenticity but it doesn’t come easily. What we see as courage in others, we see as vulnerability in ourselves. As Brown says, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled. Credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs to come short and short again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasm and knows the great devotion, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And, who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly” Theodore Roosevelt

Photo Cred: Miika Silfverberg

To Anyone Who Feels They Don’t Fit In

here's to the crazy ones

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do…”  -Apple, Inc.

Hello Means So Much (We Are All In This Together)

Antonio Fidalgo

In South Africa, people greet one another as they pass by even if they don’t know each other. When passing, one person says, “Sikhona,” meaning “I am here to be seen,” and the other responds, “Sawubona,” meaning “I see you.”

Think about that:

“I am here to be seen.”

“I see you.”

How many people do we go by every day that we never really see?

I used to think that this type of fleeting small talk was superficial. I didn’t see the value in “Hi, how are you?” and “I’m good, thanks. And you?” And the weather, I never understood why people felt the need to say “beautiful day out” or “gosh, this rain sure can stop anytime.”

The Zulu believe the formal exchange of a greeting invokes a person’s spirit to fully inhabit the moment. “I am here to be seen” means “this is who I am and I will speak honestly, without deception.” “I see you,” is an affirmation that the person responding will let go of any preconceptions or judgements and see that person just as they are.

Yesterday morning, when I was out walking the dogs, a man walked past me and said hello. I said good morning back. He stopped walking, turned to me and said “what a beautiful day today.” It was pretty dreary and wet outside and that’s what I had thought about when I stepped outside with dogs. But this man was on to something–the air was crisp and cool but not too cold, the orange and red leaves of the turning trees glistened from a night of heavy rain.

I responded to the man “you’re right, we are lucky to have such a lovely morning.” He said he had just moved from New York City to take care of his aging mother and that back in the city, he missed seeing such a lovely fall. In all, our conversation lasted less than a minute. I couldn’t help but feel more aware; more alive, as I walked back to the house with the dogs.

When we greet another person; when we say hello, ask how they are doing and even comment on the weather, we are acknowledging that we see one another. It doesn’t matter that we know nothing about the person we’re speaking to and even that we will possibly never see or interact with them again. At that moment, we are affirming that we both exist, we are both equal, and we will give each other the mutual respect we should always give others.

The Zulu would say that greetings “bring each other into existence.” They are a reminder that in the unpredictable of often painful struggles of life and of death, none of us is in this alone.

Sawubona, my friends–welcome to this important day, I see you.

Photo Cred: Antonio Fidalgo

Be Aware Of The Things You Do That Hold You Back

Not To Do

Most of us have sat in a training session or retreat meant to revive and inspire us. These meetings often focus on the things we should be doing in order to be successful. We look at how to do more of the good stuff and we tend to put emphasis on the positive things that get the job done and move us forward in our fast-paced environments.

For everything you’ve been read or taught that outlines the things to do to achieve success, how often have you looked at the things not to do in order to achieve that same success?

It’s easy to look at the success we have had and determine that our qualities and traits–the things we’ve been doing, are directly attributed to that success. In large that’s accurate. Our successes can be attributed to the work we’ve put in and the qualities we possess. On the other hand, some of our successes are in spite of some of the things we do.

We’re trained to look more closely at positive actions because in most cases, the good gets rewarded. But what if we looked more closely at all of our traits and determined which ones were actually holding us back? Perhaps, in addition to our daily “To Do” list, we should also create a “To Stop Doing” list. Consider how much more valuable our lives could be if we were more conscious of the effects all of our actions have on others and our success.



How To Stop Standing In Your Own Way

MTS Creates

To find our own way we have to get out of our own way. We’ve got to let go of “the way things are”. We’ve got to just do despite our fear of judgment, failure or uncertainty. We’ve got to stick it out, stand up for it, bleed for it and push through the minutia on the way there.

And when we’re in the thick of things, when we feel most vulnerable and begin to listen to our inner critics, when it feels like we’re making a mess of everything, possibly the most important thing to remember is that we’re doing just fine. It’ll be okay. We’re doing the tough stuff. We’ve got grit. We’re learning. We’re getting closer by making mistakes. We’re better today than we were yesterday–we’re doing just fine.


Illustration Courtesy of MTSCreates


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