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Are You In The Arena Of Life?

Late last year when I facilitated the 2030 Leadership Program for The Hunger Project in Uganda, Dr Brene Brown had just released her fifth book Dare to Lead (DTL).

If you are not aware of Brene Brown, she is a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She is a regular on Oprah’s ‘Super Soul Sunday’, and now has a successful show on Netflix.

I was so excited to have the book in my hands when I boarded my flight to Uganda, and although I knew it would expand and inspire the work I do, I had no idea how powerful this book would be.

In Uganda, there was not a day that went by when I did not quote from the book. We were all in Uganda on a leadership program, and DTL was precisely the book I needed to empower my leadership. It prompted me to lead tough conversations about unconscious bias and cultural appropriation, and to honour the skills, challenges, and humanity, of each participant. As a group, we were able to set firm boundaries around expectations and codes of conduct in a way that was responsive to different needs as they revealed themselves.

Once I returned to Australia, I gave the book to the incredible team who had supported my leadership in Uganda, it had served us well.

Then I received a ‘divine download’.

I have no religious affiliation, but divine downloads are divine.

The message was ‘Go to your laptop and check out more about Dare To Lead.’

I always listen to my divine downloads; the first one I received was at 16 years of age. It told me to ‘never compare myself to anyone else, or I would never be happy’.

That download changed my life.

So, I began searching, and before I knew it, I was on the DTL facilitation page. Brene Brown would personally be running four programs in 2019 to train facilitators in her work.

This is what I read:

“The focus of our training and certification program is courage-building. Specifically, we train facilitators how to teach the skills, practices, and tools that underpin the four skill sets of courage: Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust, and Learning toRise.”

My heart was pounding, I knew I was meant to do this.

Sometimes, you just know.

Luckily, I was eligible on 2 out of the 3 of the criteria, and I began the application process.

Then I stopped. I stopped for a few days.

I began to listen to the ‘You won’t be accepted voice’, the, ‘There will be so many applicants from around the world, why bother?’ voice.

But as a divine download had guided me to this point, and Brene Brown’s favourite quote includes ‘be in the arena’, I sat back down at my desk and completed the task of applying.

I had been told that if I had been successful, I would hear on a specific date, a Friday. When I checked, nothing. I had not been accepted. I was disappointed, but I just figured I would apply the following year, even though she might not personally run the program.

Then on a Sunday, I got another divine download. Go and check again. Now, I am rarely on my computer on weekends, and definitely not on emails.

And there it was, “You have been accepted to the Dare to Lead facilitators program with Brene Brown”.

I burst into tears of joy.

I screamed to my family, “I got in!!!” My husband hugged me hard.

My daughter started jumping on the bed, screaming and crying, and then she said, “I don’t even know why I’m crying.”

So, in 10 days, I will be on a flight to Texas (Brene Brown’s home state) to train with other ‘leadership professionals’ in the work of making the world a braver place.

I am so excited to be able to share my learnings with my coaching clients and the organisations I have the pleasure to work with. I look forward to being a vessel for this important and insightful work.

The arena can be scary, but unless we get in it, we will never have a chance.

Wishing you a weekend of ‘arena’ living. xxx

Brene Browns TEDTalk is the second most-watched TedTalk of all time.

She is also speaking in Melbourne later this year if you want to see her in action.

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.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

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