Shame and perfectionism are so prevalent in our society.  And, believe it or not, that really affects our lives as entrepreneurs, leaders, and small businesses as a whole!

I just wrapped up Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and it really opened my eyes up to an entirely new way to approach shame, vulnerability, anxiety, and leadership!  I’ve highlighted some of the big points that I got out of the book below (all quotes are from author Brene Brown) but I would definitely suggest you check it out yourself; there are a ton of great lessons that can transform your life, relationships, and business!

Here are some of the ways I learned to succeed at daring greatly in business:

man daring greatly with arms in air

We always think that there’s not enough.

How often do you think these kinds of thoughts?

  • I don’t have enough time!
  • I’m not making enough money.
  • I’m not as successful as I want to be.
  • I’m not growing quickly enough.
  • I’m not confident enough.
  • I’m not talented enough.

The list goes on and on! This is scarcity, an idea that’s so prevalent in our society, where we constantly compare ourselves to friends or businesses on social media anD spend

inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs, and wants. – Brene Brown

But what we don’t think about is that we’re comparing our everyday lives, businesses, marriages, etc. to the unattainable, perfect view of someone else’s lives, businesses, or marriages that we see on social media, watch on television, or read in books.

This is something that I see so often in businesses. We see the hyped up Silicon Valley companies that seem to make billions overnight and compare ourselves to them. Or we watch the quick success found on Shark Tank or pushed in Entrepreneur Magazine and think that we’re not nearly good enough. But what we don’t see is the hours upon hours, year after year of work put in by those businesses before they found their success.

The opposite of scarcity is knowing that you’re enough. You are enough. Your business is enough. Your success is enough.

And that’s the first step on the path of living boldly and daring greatly.

Don’t be afraid of vulnerability.

Can vulnerability seem scary? Absolutely. But if you’re afraid of failure and of vulnerability, you’ll miss out on some of the best parts of life.

What makes you vulnerable? Well. Starting your own business. Delivering creative work to clients. Publishing a book. Making an investment. Partnering with someone new.

Those things are also bold and courageous. They help you follow your dreams and meet your goals. And what if you fail? Then it’s a valuable learning experience.

Vulnerability helps us be more successful. It makes us better leaders and better communicators. It helps us connect with people. And it helps us get away from the feeling and idea of scarcity that I talked about above.

The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.

daring greatly by toasting with friends

You can’t go it alone. 

As individuals, we weren’t created to live life alone and the same goes for entrepreneurs and businesses.

We need other people in our industry or other entrepreneurs around to give us a hand when we do fail, encourage us along the way, and share mutual challenges and journeys. We need people in our corner. And those types of relationships require courage, vulnerability, and a willingness to ask for help.

One of the metaphors [for asking for support] is the snowball. The snowball starts rolling when a leader is willing to be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. [Harvard Business Review’s] research shows that this act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit.

What would happen if we did this with our employees, our business partners, or our colleagues? There would be more trust, more openness, more collaboration, and, ultimately, a more successful business.

Your worth is not tied to your art, your product, or your financial success. 

When you define your worth by how other people react to what you do, you’re trapped.

If you’re wondering what happens if you attach your self-worth to your art or your product and people love it, let me answer that from personal experience. You’re in even deeper trouble. Everything shame needs to hijack and control your life is in place. You’ve handed over your self-worth to what people think…You’re officially a prisoner of ‘pleasing, performing, and perfecting.’

You’re more than your income, your performance, your sales goals, your website visitors, your social media followers, and your online reviews. And when you disconnect your worth from those things, you’re free to take the risks that are required to move your company forward while truly daring greatly.

Work on becoming shame resilient.

First of all, what is shame?

Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.

So when you become shame resilient, you remain authentic when experiencing shame and don’t sacrifice your values. You grow from your shame. There are a few steps to doing this:

  1. Recognize when you’re feeling shame and learn what causes it.
  2. Be brave and reach out to someone. Share what you’re feeling with someone that you care about. Empathy is powerful!
  3. Talk to yourself the way you would someone that you love the most. Tell yourself that it’s okay, that you’re only human, that you’re enough.
  4. Don’t hide your experience; own it. Then, you’re in charge of your reaction and the conclusion of that story.

leader at board meeting practicing daring greatly

As leaders, are we actually living out the values that we say we have?

One of the most common causes of disengagement in the corporate world is when our employees feel like us, their leaders, aren’t living up to the end of our mutual social contract. It’s so, so important that we create a culture and live by it each and every day.

the space between our practice values (what we’re actually doing, thinking, and feeling) and our aspirational values (what we want to do, think, and feel) is the value gap…It’s where we lose our employees, our clients, our students…and even our own children.

If our values don’t align with our actions, we show the people that we work with that we’re not honest, not authentic, and that the values don’t really matter to us after all. It’s so important to think about each and everything that we do and, if we make a mistake, explain and apologize.

A culture of shame can destroy creativity and innovation in a company. 

Shame breeds fear. It crushes our tolerance for vulnerability, thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust. And worst of all, if we don’t know what we’re looking for, shame can ravage our organizations before we see one outward sign of a problem.

So what does shame look like in a company? It looks like being overly critical or reprimanding your employees in front of co-workers. It looks like creating rewards that are intended to belittle people. It looks like discouraging creativity or unique ideas. It looks like blame being a common choice by your employees. It looks like cover-ups designed to protect the reputation of the business or its leaders.

And the result of shame is disengaged employees who don’t produce quality work, justify unethical decisions, or leave and work for a competitor. This is definitely not the kind of environment we want for our small businesses!

So how do you prevent a culture of shame and succeed at daring greatly? Value empathy and expect accountability. Encourage belonging and acceptance among your employees. Refuse to tolerate shame, cover-ups, bullying, belittling comments, or unhealthy competition. Hold honest conversations about shame and train employees and leaders to give and receive feedback in a healthy, constructive way.

You can find Brene Brown’s checklist for knowing when you’re ready to deliver feedback on her website. It’s super helpful, so I would definitely recommend that you check it out!

Have you read Daring Greatly?  If so, what were your favorite points?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!