Posted May 21, 2014 by Jon Tucker 

Brené Brown and Finding Courage

Every once in awhile I come across someone’s work with which I am unfamiliar that offers tidbits of information that strike me in unusual ways. One recent example is the work of Brené Brown. As someone who has taught leadership for years and worked in a variety of ways to empower people to find their own leadership, I was surprised by the introspection her thoughts caused in me.Courage

Brown does some intriguing work, particularly about the role vulnerability plays in our lives. She claims that it is through vulnerability that we are most courageous. She ponders that if we were to think of the moments when we were daring and inspirational, were those moments a result of certainty or times when we felt vulnerable? Is coming out to friends and family a moment of certitude or one of the opposite? Is challenging a fear of heights by going skydiving an episode when you feel truly confident or is there a voice inside your head screaming for you to just stay on a safer path (like staying on the perfectly solid ground)? And then there is the feeling that occurs when you overcome that vulnerability and dare to be more and take a risk. Is there really anything better?

I find that my life is defined by the moments where I was vulnerable—coming out to friends and family, overcoming cancer at the cusp of starting my professional life, taking jobs with new responsibilities in new places, starting new romantic relationships. These are all defining moments, drawn from me being at a point where there was a lot of risk (personally or professionally). They are also extremely vivid in my mind and places where a lot of growth and learning took place.

When teaching leadership, there are variety of words we tackle with our students: diversity, communication, teamwork, challenge, etc. Perhaps there is room for us to explore “authenticity” as a concept within our leadership confines. Seeing those links from vulnerability to authenticity might be a powerful concept for our leaders to explore.

I would encourage people to examine their work in the context of being authentic with ourselves and others. There are a great many lessons for us to evaluate, both for self-work and as we engage our student leaders in their development in the future.
Jon Tucker

Jon Tucker is the Director, Student Union & Event Services at University of Nevada–Las Vegas.

Jon has nearly 20 years of professional experience in student affairs and has authored of two books on icebreakers and teambuilders.


I love Brene Brown!! Her writing really inspires me, and I have her quote on authenticity hanging up in my office! :)
Susanna Foxworthy
Comment posted 05/22/2014 2:04 PM
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