I’m going to let you in on a secret. The other day, I started doubting myself, as all humans do when we feel vulnerable. Feeling exposed is not something that people tend to actively seek, and I am no different. In fact, the research I’ve done has demonstrated that without question, our brains will enthusiastically favour and pursue paths leading to comfort over adversity, regardless of the potential benefits of the more difficult path.
That voice, perhaps fear, showed up to sabotage, creeping in boldly, and I naively gave it the floor. I found myself questioning whether the 21-Day Small Act Big Impact Challenge was relevant, making an actual impact. It was kind of crushing for a moment.
But I’ve learned something about fear, recently. If we speak to it with compassion, as Elizabeth Gilbert explains in her book Big Magic, recognizing that it seeks to protect, thanking it kindly, telling it that its services are not required for this journey, and refusing it any decision-making duties…fear retreats.
You can get back to your good work.
You can get back to the WHY that drives you and keeps you focused.
My mission is to cultivate and promote safe, caring, and supportive cultures in our workplaces, schools, and communities, where people can gain a sense of significance and belonging, no matter their background.
Notoriety does not interest me.
Inspiring others to identify with this mission is what matters to me.
People’s well-being is paramount.
I want to share how I felt that evening, because too often, we celebrate achievements but fail to see the struggles associated with getting there. We have all felt moments of self-doubt, whether at work, school, or in life in general. But we’re all a little scared to talk about these moments as they unfold because of the perception that somehow, it’s weak to do so.
Bréné Brown, a researcher-storyteller and professor at the University of Houston, has become well-known as a result of her extensive body of work on shame and vulnerability. She states, in her book Rising Strong, that our culture tends to “gold-plate grit.” What she means is that when people tell stories of success, they often gloss over the struggle. Scars are easier to talk about after they’ve formed, than to show them off as they’re happening.
She defines vulnerability as the ability to “show up, be seen, even when [you] have no control over the outcome.” She goes on to assert that vulnerability, “is not weakness, it’s the most accurate measure of courage.”
The funny thing about life, is that it often steps in to pick you up right when you need it most.
The next day, I coincidentally received several messages and anecdotes from friends, family, colleagues, friends-of-friends, and even strangers, who felt compelled to share how the 21-Day Small Act Big Impact Challenge has inspired them to approach their days a little differently.
To write letters they wouldn’t have written.
To not only see strangers in a different light, but help them with no expectation of recompense.
To lead their own children in writing cards of gratitude to their teachers.
To buy coffees for their coworkers.
To appreciate those with whom they work.
To lead their students in doing the challenge with their students.
To do the challenge themselves.
So, hopefully, whenever self-doubt permeates your thoughts and the work you do, you’ll remember that “if we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper more meaningful lives, vulnerability is the path” (Brene Brown).
Dare to be seen in all of your glory.