Sunday, February 4, 2018


I was watching Brene' Brown's second TED talk - the one where she talks about what it's like to be a shame researcher and to be vulnerable in a big public way.   Damn.  That woman is really funny. And soooo open.

At one point she asks the crowd, 'How many of you, when you're thinking about doing something vulnerable, think 'Vulnerability is weakness'?'  [4:20].  Turns out that most of us, when we think about doing something that will make us vulnerable, think that vulnerability is weakness.

However.   And this is a giant however,  when she turned the question around and asked, 'How many of you, when you see someone ELSE being vulnerable, think that was pure courage?' [4:40]

Then she states flat out that vulnerability is not weakness.  She defines vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty and states that it fuels our daily lives.    She says, 'Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage'. 

So what does this have to do with Mindset?   Consider this situation:  J. Doe really likes J. Smith and wants to spend more time together.

J. Doe has a three basic options:

  • Option A: Say nothing, risk nothing, gain nothing.
  • Option B: Say something, risk relationship, lose relationship
  • Option C: Say something, risk relationship, gain better relationship

Mindset is what makes it possible for you to look at J. Doe and say, 'Be brave! Go for Option 3! You have so much to gain!'

...and what makes it possible for you to be J. Doe and say, '....uh...too scary!  Let's stick with Option 1. I have so much to lose!

The options are exactly the same.  The mindset is different.  In the first, the mindset and focus are on possible gains.   In the second, the mindset and focus are on possible losses. 

As I've been thinking about my best life and the changes that I have made and the ones I need to make, I think a lot about possible gains and possible losses.   New decisions are not less scary, but I am getting used to taking the risks despite the fear and I have found out that what appears to be a bottomless pit of despair if I fail, is often a very strong safety net held tight by my friends and family who cheer me on in every effort and who [surprisingly?] celebrate my courage.

This has been true when I left my job in academics, when I started my own business, when I left a toxic church situation, and when I decided to pursue a new career path in art.  Transitions were often slow and sometimes messy.  In every case, there were risks:  possible gains, possible losses.

The takeaway for me is this:  In every case where I choose to focus on gains, the outcomes put me in a better place. 

And I discovered that courage is contagious.  This is a powerful thing.

Think about the choices you are making about your best life, about pursuing your dreams.   What would you be able to do if you focused only on the possible gains? 

p.s.  I found this great article talking about more of this stuff.    

Also - I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all that that entails.  In addition, I have another group, The Well Balanced Artist, for creatives of all kinds and in all stages of their creative lives, who are trying to balance their art, business and personal lives.  We'd love to have you.

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