all things social work

Brené Brown (she’s really awesome…)

on December 18, 2011

Apparently, I need to create a category just for Brené Brown.  I can’t get enough of her!  Some of my favorites…

TEDxHouston – Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability


TEDxKC – Brené Brown – The Price of Invulnerability

Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect


Ordinary Courage Blog


the wo/man in the arena

(Brené Brown, September 15, 2011)

Ellen + friends

I have a post-it note above my desk with this reminder on it:

“At the end of the day and at the end of my life, I want to know that I contributed more than I criticized.”

It’s a touchstone for me when I’m feeling vulnerable about sharing my work in a world where it’s easy to attack and ridicule. It’s also helpful when I find myself using perfection, sarcasm, and criticism to protect myself or to discharge my own discomfort.

I also turn to this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech Citizenship In A Republic, delivered at the Sorbonne (1910):

The Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man 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 enthusiasms, 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 nor defeat.”

I’m constantly reminding myself that I can’t wait until I’m perfect or bulletproof to walk into the arena because that’s never going to happen. We just have show up and let ourselves be seen – that’s my definition of “daring greatly.”


freak flag

(Brené Brown, September 21, 2011)

We’ve all got one. And they’re not small like the kind you wave in the air during a parade. Freak flags are beach-towel big.

When it comes to our freak flags, we only have two choices: Fly it or fold it up and try to hide it . . . on our person.

Freak flags can’t be stuffed into drawers, shoved under sofa cushions, or kept in the trunk of our car. They go where we go.

We can try to fold it up and stick it under our jacket or up our pant leg, but it’s not very comfortable. They’re big and itchy and hot. I’m pretty sure that’s why there are so many angry people – their flags are riding up.

No matter how good we are at folding, flattening, and concealing who we are our flags, everyone knows that we’re hiding one somewhere. I mean, c’mon, it’s the size of beach towel! The bottom line is that it’s hard not to notice us when we’re working so hard to conceal our vulnerabilitiy flag.

The truth? No one is “normal” and we’re all someone’s “other.” 

In a world where we’re constantly comparing and judging and shaming, I find so much peace in knowing that the one thing that we share in common is our flag. Our freak flag.

What do you think? Fly or fold?


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