2008 was a Learning Year for me. I spent all 12 months involved in an intensive leadership program at work with a group of about 15 other folks. Once a month we would get “out of the office” for a day and learn about ourselves, our personalities, our leadership styles and of course some general business acumen. It was a little bit corporate, a little bit hippie dippy but most of all it was incredibly informative.
For a year it was a Public Speaking Bootcamp (and for that I’m especially grateful for with this upcoming Colorado gig! ha!) But it was also a year of learning to gracefully take uncomfortable feedback and to manage long term projects. It was lots of goal setting and learning how to breakdown difficult discussions and also how to communicate your intentions while doing so. It was a lot of hard work and there were a number of times where I thought to myself “Why can’t you just clock in and clock out? This is your job, not your life. Why are you here?” But the truth is, I learned a lot of things that have affected my life since. That have helped me have confidence charting my own path and being who I am, and for that I will always be grateful and glad that I did the extra work.
At the end of the year we had a little awards ceremony and many of the leaders who had guided our study throughout the year made special points to congratulate us and say nice things about our progress. One of the people I really connected with that year stopped me at the end and gave me a compliment that seemed odd to me at the time, but I bookmarked it in my mind and have thought about a lot since. He said, “Your personal brand is your vulnerability. It’s a gift and it is what makes you relatable, and in a leadership role this will earn you great respect an authority.” I hate myself a little bit for using the phrase “Personal Brand” here but I think you know what I’m getting at.
For a long time I thought to myself — Crap! He thought I was a hot mess that entire year. I open myself up too easily, let loose a little too often and a little too uncensored. How the hell will people respect me if I’m just airing my business everywhere? How am I supposed to see this as a gift? And when I came across the following line is Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, almost 4 years later, I had a little light bulb moment:
Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust building process.
As I read this book, I was transplanted right back to that Learning Year of 2008. So much of the information in it made me think about my behaviors and motivation in work and in life. It made me think about what I want my relationships to look like, how I want to parent and how I want live. And one of the most surprising things about it is that it is so rare that a book can do all of that while also having such a charming voice and being full of great research.
While I read this book first as an obligation, I am so happy that I did. Because now? I can recommend it highly from my the bottom of my heart.
I read this book as a part of BlogHer Book Club and while I was compensated for my review as well as provided a fee copy of the book, all opinions expressed are my own.