Rocket Surgery Hero of the week: Brené Brown.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brené Brown

Brené Brown could be a candidate for Woman of theYear every year. In addition to knowing a lot and understanding much about researching human nature, she is very smart — so smart, in fact, that to save her life her unconscious trapped her into frying her brain and freeing her heart.

With a Ph.D. in Social Work and Licensed as a Clinical Social Worker, Brené is a researcher and a storyteller. The soul quality of the stories she heard pulled her to investigate human connections – our neurobiological capacity for relationships, giving purpose and meaning to our lives.

Her own soul was at work, pushing up through her unconscious like a sprouting seed; an invisible force guiding her to an identity crisis. Adolescence may be the best known milestone for identity crises, but hopefully it’s not the only time you’ll endure your brain feeling fried and your disintegrated self needing to be recreated. If we’re deeply engaged with life, we’re likely to experience our self in need repairing or rebuilding every decade or so. Three interrelated dynamics influence the current integrity of our self: What life has in store for us; the investment we make finding our internal witness and advisor who is engaged but not identified with our current experience; and, how conscious we are of the values and beliefs we hold.

What stopped Dr. Brown in her tracks and caused her to have to question her fundamental beliefs was that in her quest to come up with an objective, replicable solution for replacing shame-based isolation with life-giving relationships, her research clearly said, the answer to connection cannot be quantified. The problems of disconnection cannot be solved from the outside in; no pill, no book, not even the world’s greatest Life Coach can get you connected when you aren’t.

So what’s the big deal? Why does finding out that you can’t buy happiness (duhh!) lead an intelligent, smart, self-knowing professional to crash and burn? The answer of course is that she isn’t much different than you are or I am. How much time, energy, and money have you invested in trying to get you to be who you “should” be? I see those hands, and mine is up as well.

Brené Brown discovered that although well intentioned, the rules she used to live, love, work, and parent, were destructive. They weren’t her rules. She wasn’t living HER life.

In the process of identifying with a new and larger perspective of who she is, Brené had to let go of at least one core belief. When her research did not give her the power to predict and control worthiness or shame, she chose to follow a path of truth- telling. Brené said it felt like “betrayal.” That’s powerful pain, and she used it to ignite a retro rocket that propelled her out from her well established and familiar orbit to one that transcended and included all she had known before.

In our culture the path of least resistance is to “parent for success.” Dr. Brown’s story suggests, however, that the most powerful return on living isn’t the stuff that we can measure: net worth, profit, commission, points scored, golf handicap, etc.. The “real” stuff of life is stimulated by the quality of one’s self-awareness: Aware of our worthiness and intentionally developing the capacity to live without the need of defenses. Living wholeheartedly.

Our living, loving, working, and parenting centered around a secure sense of the worth of self and other is how we enjoy the most meaningful life possible. Brené got HER life back, and I’d be surprized if she thinks much about being Woman of the Year.

Are you ready to let yourself be deeply and vulnerably seen? Are you ready to love with your whole heart even though there’s no guarantee of your love being returned? Are you ready to practice gratitude and joy even in moments of terror? Are you ready to believe you are enough? I am and if I can help you in designing your life of purpose and meaning, please let me know.