Courage | A Personal Journey of Professional Development

Those of you who know me well will know that I am a big fan of Brené Brown. She believes we “gain courage through vulnerability”. When we are vulnerable, we subject ourselves to new experiences and challenges, which is key to growth as a small business owner.

This week I relistened to her book Rising Strong and watched her documentary on Netflix, The Call to Courage. Both are equal parts motivational, funny and thought provoking.

The theme this week is Courage; to have the ability to do something that frightens us. To have the courage to show up when we cannot control the outcome.

Listen - Courage (Week 1)


Brené believes creating expectations, the idea of how we think things are going to be, look and feel, and most of all how people around us will behave and respond, is “resentment under construction”.

Unbeknown to me I had created my own expectation about developing this series. It was, “I will feel it was worthwhile if 50 or more participants sign up and everyone loves the content I share”. What I learnt from Brené is that my self-worth was now linked to my ability to control other people's behaviour. She helped me realise I was expecting an outcome that I cannot control. My new expectation is to produce content that I am proud of and ideas that I am excited to share. This, I can control.

I challenge you to become conscious of your own hidden expectations, we all have them!

No Vulnerability, No Creativity. No Tolerance for Failure, No Innovation

In Call to Courage Brené highlights: "If you're not willing to fail, you can't innovate. If you're not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can't create." Vulnerability is not about winning or losing, it is about having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.

On reflection of this statement I realised that we had addressed this in our article 'We Don’t Always Get It Right'. As creatives we put ourselves out there for criticism when we create a new brand, website or article and we don’t always get it right. Everyone is a critic, and everyone has their own perspective on what works and how it should look.

Brand Strategy Workbook

In order to grow customer satisfaction, we used the feedback from times when we didn’t quite get it right, to develop our Brand Strategy Workbook. We realised there were things we could do to help get it right, and ensure our purpose, motivations and intentions were consistent with our client’s expectations. This workbook has now enabled us to get it right 90% of the time, adding incredible value to our business and client relationships. Which in turn has led to a large part of our new client base coming from referrals.

If you want to be creative, the only option is to be brave. We need to accept our failures, stay open to feedback and vulnerability in order to come up with our best ideas.

What creative challenge can you take on to enhance your processes?

SFD’s & the Rising Strong Practice

As I said earlier, I have read this book before. It was after my sister passed away suddenly in October 2017. As you can imagine I wasn’t taking a lot in at the time but unconsciously I have been putting the Rising Strong Practice of The Reckoning, The Rumble and The Revolution into my life ever since. It is a great tool and extremely powerful when put into practice, especially in challenging times.

The Shitty First Draft (SFD) part is when we create a story from limited data. Brené calls this “the shitty first draft” or for kids “the shifty first draft”. It is the story we tell ourselves, mostly driven by feelings of shame, guilt or fear.

Recently I had a colleague review one of my articles. Upon return it was full of red comments and corrections. My reaction, or SFD was: “I am a failure. Who do I think I am, writing content for others to read? This is not my strength; don’t know why I bother.”

As the hours passed, I had managed to work through the Rising Strong Practice. The Reckoning: the feelings of shame, guilt and fear of being outed as a fraud. The Rumble: the understanding that the fear, guilt and shame I was feeling came from my school days when my English essays were handed back full of red pen and with a large red D circled in the top right corner. The Revolution: the realisation that my colleague’s suggestions were sent with love, not shaming or criticism but advice on how the article could be improved. She recently wrote, “you write very well, shame you didn’t start earlier”. I now understand my SFD had been holding me back from something I find challenging but actually enjoy.

The Rising Strong Practice has taught me to appreciate my failures. They can be great learning experiences; to recognise when I am playing the victim and to let down my armour to enable ownership of my story.

What SFD’s are holding you back?

Choose Joy, Play & Time Spent Without Purpose

This was interesting because spending time without purpose is something I would say does not really work for me. I like a list, goals and the feeling of accomplishment upon completion. Therefore, considering how I introduce this idea more into my personal life is one I will be working on.

However, I do have an example of this in my work life. I remember a couple of years ago Steve (my partner) asking me if I think I spend too much time ‘chatting’ on the phone with Jayden (my employee) at Monday check-in.

Working remotely like we do means that Jayden and I do not often get together face to face, therefore the only way we can connect and build trust is to spend time without purpose. We share stories, projects, funny moments, challenges and entertain each other with weekend adventures or misadventures as can sometimes be the case. We spend time without purpose and grow as a team.

By connecting without purpose, we build trust, share vulnerabilities and have honest conversations. This in turn sets the ground work for difficult conversations like the one we have all had to have with our staff about the future of our businesses during COVID-19.

Steve is now managing a team remotely and he has scheduled a check-in once a week. He too is finding this time without purpose valuable for building better relationships with his team.

How are you building better relationships with your team?

If you have enjoyed the content, we have shared with you today, please feel free to register for our FREE Mentoring Series or share this content with your friends and colleagues.  

Join us for next week’s theme Resilience and Steve Farber’s book 'The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership'.

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If you see value in some of the ideas presented or have concerns or challenges you are facing in your organisation, the Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) has extended its free mentoring program.

With over 20 years’ experience in business and having been through my share of adversity during that time, I have a wealth of knowledge to call upon. As a recent participant said, “It is just great to be able to talk it through from another perspective.”

If you are looking for support or wanting to focus on an aspect of your business that you feel is aligned with our expertise in brand and business development, book here for your free 2 hour mentoring session.

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