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Lessons on Courage from Brené Brown

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Two of our very own Shinebright team members had the extreme fortune of seeing Brené Brown, a rockstar research professor and author of several books on shame, courage and vulnerability, speak at UCLA last month. Inspired and energized by her direct and frank way of communicating complex intellectual ideals, we spent much of the following week digesting her approach to her research, and discussing how those topics translate into the work we do with Shinebright clients as coaches and resume writers.

In short: we fangirled over our wholehearted and insightful hero for a long while and then got down to some serious reflection on how her work informs our own work. :)

Dr. Brown’s research findings on bravery, shame, fear, and courage are not always the easiest to discuss, but without a doubt are important lessons. In some ways, realizing that everybody has felt these muddy feelings both professionally and personally is a freeing realization - and a realization that allows for acceptance, healing, and growth. At Shinebright, these same topics show up very often as tricky stumbling blocks when a client is seeking a change in career, or working to gain self-awareness about their innate unique strengths as an employee, entrepreneur, or leader.

Shannon Philip, career coach and co-founder of Shinebright, has observed a pattern of shame in virtually every career and life coaching client regardless of their accomplishments. “The biggest distinction I see isn’t whether or not you have fears, it’s whether or not you choose to let those fears block you from moving towards your dreams”, she says. “Whether you’re at the top of your career or in-between jobs, everyone carries their share of insecurities. It’s simply part of the human condition.”

In Dr. Brown’s blog article, Courage over Comfort: Rumbling with Shame, Accountability and Failure at Work, she notes the minor but important difference between making a certain (potentially regrettable) decision in the workplace vs defining yourself by shameful self-judgements. She notes, “The difference between I am a screwup and I screwed up may look small, but in fact it’s huge. Many of us will spend our entire lives trying to slog through the shame swampland to get to a place where we can give ourselves permission to both be imperfect and to believe we are enough. Failure can become our most powerful path to learning if we’re willing to choose courage over comfort.”

It’s extremely important to separate experiences at work from personal worth, and to remember that all paths to success or change are dotted with failures and setbacks. Working with a Shinebright coach can help focus and guide the processes of identifying and understanding those career-related experiences so they do not lower your sense of confidence or competence, but instead become markers for some really useful learning that can empower your future decisions.

If you are approaching a crossroads in your career, or are seeking growth in areas where you’ve felt stuck, it’s very possible that working with a career coach can help facilitate these changes. Want to find out for yourself? Schedule a free consultation with one of our coaches to get started.

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