Guy Kawasaki recently used his voice on LinkedIn to share Brené Brown’s, Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count. It caught my attention, as I see the link between vulnerability and a company’s willingness to market in a way that makes it possible to be seen.
Brown shares, “Without vulnerability you cannot create.” I could not agree more. Leaders must embrace opening themselves up so they can lead companies to show up, innovate and be creative. Playing it too safe takes you out of the game and weakens your business position and message.
If you are not familiar with Brené Brown, she is the author of the bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead. In her speech, she references Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man In The Arena, an excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April 1910.
“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.”
Brown describes, brilliantly, the type of supporter you need if you want to live your life in the arena when she shares, “The other thing you’ve got to have is at least one person in your life who is willing to pick you up and dust you off and look at you when you fail, which hopefully you will because if you are not failing you really aren’t showing up. But is willing to look at you when you fail, and say, yeah, that sucks, it was totally as bad as you thought. But you were brave. Let’s get you cleaned up because you are going to go back in. And, this is someone who loves you not despite your vulnerabilities and imperfections, but because of them.”
Those words describe perfectly the support I received from my dear friend, Marc DesRosiers. This Sunday, Marc passed away suddenly. He leaves behind a wife and three young children. Marc was a positive and warm spirit with a hilarious sense of humor. I met Marc as a member of Entrepreneur Organization (EO). He was in my “forum,” a breakout group of the larger organization that meets once a month to discuss business ideas and challenges. As any entrepreneur or business leader knows, personal lives impact business and vice versa. So the conversations were often intense. The group was close.
EO is great for finding true, like-minded, supporters. Taking advice from people not in the arena can lead you to make fear-based decisions. It can lead you to retreat when you should be charging forward. You have to be careful who you take advice from as Brown says, “If you are going to show up and be seen there is only one guarantee, you will get your ass kicked.” She goes on to state, “If you are not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.”
When you have that right kind of supporters, it helps you lose focus on the critics. She shares, “We are hard wired for connection, when we stop caring what people think we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think we lose our capacity to be vulnerable. Not caring what people think is its own kind of hustle.”
Brown shares her thoughts on the alternative to life in the arena, “Yeah. It’s so scary to show up, it feels dangerous to be seen. It’s terrifying. But, it is not as scary, dangerous or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking what if I would have shown up, what would have been different.”
Marc was in the arena. For any business leader that does not have one or several people like Marc in their life, you need it. Go find it. Thank you Marc DesRosiers for being one of my supporters. I love you man.