This series shares brave, honest, sometimes hilarious stories of how we hold it all together in one breath and let it all go in another. I want to share stories of what mamahood + biz really looks like, and demystify the idea that we can’t do both well....because I believe that we can do both really well.
As a newish mom I created these questions as a way for me to sit and pause inside the wisdom of the mothers who are ahead of me. I'm deeply interested in hearing what they have to say about how they manage, how they cope, how they do their work in the world while also being fully present in the center of their motherhood journey. I need the examples, the stories, the truth.
(Brene + me, summer 2012)
I'm excited to share today's conversation with Brene Brown. Since meeting and becoming friends with Brene about five years ago, I've watched how she has beautifully (even in the rough patches) navigated the demands of her exploding career while staying true and centered in her motherhood and family journey.
I trust her explicitly and often consider what she would consider in any given mama dilemma, or business dilemma. She is one of the few people I call when I need solid, good, heart-centered advice. She speaks from a deep place that merges heart with logic, wisdom with texan feistiness, boldness with tenderness. I just adore her and excited to hear her thoughts in the conversation today.
Brene's groundbreaking work on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and many other national media outlets.
Her 2010 TEDxHouston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of most watched talks on TED.com, with millions views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.
Brené is the author of the forthcoming book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Sept. 2012). She is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).
What makes you come alive?1. Laughing or dancing around the house with Steve, Ellen, and Charlie.
2. Being in “the research connections zone” – when I’m thinking about work, what it means, and what language I can use to describe/define what I’m learning.
3. Those “thin places” moments of deep faith when I feel really connected to myself and God.
How has being a mom changed your boundaries & priorities when it comes to your business? What do you find yourself saying NO to, when you used to say YES?I think the most serious strechmarks I have from motherhood stem from the pulling and pushing of boundaries. When I first became a mother I suffered from serious “half-ass” shame. I felt like I was mediocre at everything. I felt so stretched and so distracted (and exhausted). I said “Yes” way too often in an effort to prove that I could do it all. I’ve worked so hard over the past decade to move from “What will people think” to “I am enough.” It’s no mystery why I study vulnerability, shame, courage, and worthiness.
As my worthiness increased, my boundaries increased. I learned a lot from my research – especially the importance of choosing discomfort over resentment. I even bought myself a ring. I think boundaries grow from self-worth.
How do you structure your day? When do you rest, when do you create, and how do you summon the energy to show up for your kids, while running a business?I don’t negotiate sleep, exercise, or healthy food. I can’t show up for my life when I’m tired, eating crappy, or not exercising.
My new approach for showing up is to not apologize for working and having things to do, but to be fully present with my kids when I’m home.
What kind of world are you trying to create for your child to grow up in?A Wholehearted word! I can answer this really specifically because I just wrote about it in Daring Greatly. Here’s what I want for my kids:
• Engage with the world from a place of worthiness.
• Embrace their vulnerabilities and imperfections.
• Feel a deep sense of love and compassion for themselves and others.
• Value hard work, perseverance, and respect.
• Carry a sense of authenticity and belonging with them, rather than searching for it in external places.
• Have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and creative.
• Don’t fear feeling ashamed or unlovable if they are different or if they are struggling.
• Move through our rapidly changing world with courage and a resilient spirit.
Have you ever had a full-on, grown-up-lady tantrum or puddle-of-mush meltdown? (Be honest.) What triggered it? What was the lesson, for you?I’ve had lots of them. I think there are several things that almost all of my meltdowns had/have in common: Exhaustion, lack of boundaries, shame gremlins of “Never good enough” and anxiety.
I absolutely believe that we can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t take better care of our families than we take of ourselves. Meltdowns = me trying to do more for others.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom and an entrepreneur?My children get to watch me struggle, fail, succeed, and do what I love. They’re clear about the relationship between work and success. They also get to watch Steve and I deal with both failure and success. It’s vulnerability in action around our house. It’s daring greatly.
For you, is balance a myth or something you reach for - tell us your philosophy, your secrets, your ideas.I’m done with balance. For years it just felt like one more thing I wasn’t doing well. Now my goal is values alignment and clarity of choice. I want to live fully grounded in my values and I want to be clear about the choices I’m making.
I also have an extremely supportive partner. My husband Steve is passionate and excited about my career and I feel the same way about his work. A long time ago someone told me that a good marriage is not 50-50. A good marriage is having a partner who’s willing to show up with 80% when you only have 20% and who can count on you to do the same. I could NOT have the career and family I have without Steve.
Is there a moment, a decision, a day, a week that you regret when it came to motherhood + business? Tell us about that. What did you learn?I’ve made several bad choices along the way. They’ve been painful learning moments. In almost every instance, scarcity seduced me into staying quiet when I should have spoke up or walked away. When I’m afraid of turning down opportunities or telling people, “I can’t do it this way” – I end up regretting it.
There’s always pushback when we begin to lead courageous, authentic lives. We’re going to piss off people, make people uncomfortable, and get criticized. I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable with disappointing people or being on the receiving end of mean-spirited criticism, but I know I can’t go back to pleasing, performing, and perfecting. Vulnerability is hard, but not as hard as regret.