Get In The Arena – Brene Brown

On Mother’s Day my wife introduced me to Brene Brown. At first I was thinking oh boy, what is this Ted Talk about increasing my vulnerability? Was I ready for this? Would I cry? Short answers: It was great, check it out yes & yes Brene’s message was powerful and there are many applications to building wealth and becoming Money Viking strong. There are even more applications to living a more fruitful and meaningful life. I found her talk ultra cathartic and encourage everyone to check her out. The talk is available on Netflix. Ok, but what does a Ted Talk about vulnerability have to do with personal finance and building wealth? Great question. There are several ways these are connected. First of all, I believe there is an emotional component to building wealth. If we deep down inside do not believe we deserve success or deserve our own slice of this world, then we never will. Secondly, if we do not confront reality, then it will be extremely hard to build wealth. Thirdly, in order to build wealth, we will fail at times and we must get back in “the arena”.

But who is this Brene?

Brene is a researcher and professor at the University of Houston. She studies courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Deep stuff, but hang in there with me. She wrote several awesome books about life and becoming comfortable with vulnerability or just doing it anyways. One of the quotes that changed her life is by Teddy Roosevelt. I was a political science major in college and President Roosevelt was always one of my favorite presidents to study. Brene pointed out an amazing quote by Teddy Roosevelt that can change your life:
“The credit belongs to the man (or woman) who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; 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 fails while daring greatly. so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”
This is what it is all about in my opinion. When you commit yourself to building wealth, taking care of your family, striving to do and be more, you are succeeding… Yes, we will all fail, it is absolutely part of the journey. But those who win pick themselves up, learn something, re focus and strive again. Those who sit on the sidelines and criticize everyone else are simply cowards playing small!

Here are some of Brene’s main messages based on her research and experience:

1. Become vulnerable

Opening ourselves up to vulnerability is what is truly courageous. By becoming more comfortable to vulnerability we can experience deeper relationships and evolve into our most authentic self. It is very easy to sit on the internet anonymously and critique  other people. It is harder and more rewarding to love people and open up to them to discover our common humanity.

2. Question the story you tell yourself

Brene gives some great examples of the “stories” we tell ourselves about other people and their interactions with us. I have thought about this a lot in my life. Many times when I think someone is rejecting me or being rude, there is typically something else going on in the background of the other persons life or emotions that I am not aware of. Perhaps the person is tired? Perhaps they are managing a hidden fear, anxiety or depression? We do not know until we open up to others.

3. Go for excellence, not perfection

I am a big believer in this concept in general. Sometimes we need to take action and do things, even if they do not end up perfect. Leonardo da Vinci would never have created the Mona Lisa if he had just waited his whole life before trying his hand at painting. He started young practicing drawing and then learned the craft one step at a time. Not many of us will obtain such levels of mastery, but it is exciting to see how great we can become. Find a passion project and take it the next level, you may be surprised at how your skills can develop.

4. We will fail, it’s painful!

Those who succeed sometimes also fail a lot. That means we are living life and we are trying. This is what Brene means when she says get in the arena. We have to get out there each day and learn and try and many times fail. Contained within the ashes of failure is a seed. The seed can be planted and turned into future success if we cultivate it. These are a few of the great ideas I have picked up from Brene thus far. Check back as I discover more and try to apply them to my life each day. In the meantime, be proud of your effort when you have tried and come up short. Be proud when you have pushed yourself into the arena no matter how hard you may have fallen. Get back up brothers and sisters and try again!

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