I have found Brené Brown’s work incredibly helpful in my personal and professional life and I am excited to be taking part in her Living Brave semester. In addition to the exercises I wanted to reflect on something that came out of each session for me that I want to spend a little more time reflecting upon. The final exercise of the initial session involved identifying the 1-2 values that light the way in our lives, and she presents a huge list to choose from. I tried to get down to two, but ended up with three-two being in perhaps tension or paradox to make sense of the third one. The three values for me were authenticity, grace and competence.
Competence- I have always been a person who is driven to be good at whatever I do. This has its benefits and challenges, but it is a part of my personality that is not going to change. I am naturally curious and want to continually learn and grow as well as teach and I have extremely high standards for myself. The benefit of this is that I am a self-directed learner and worker who probably does far more than what is expected of me in most circumstances. I can set my mind to a task, almost any task, and I will find a way to learn and master it. On the weakness side this means my default is to judge myself and others by their competence (and at its worst to even assign value based on competence). While this fuels my creativity it can also be a harsh taskmaster and I need the next value to be its paradox and provide the (hopefully) healthy tension that I live within.
Grace- There are a cluster of faith and forgiveness related words that help flesh out what grace means to me, and the understanding of grace does come out of my faith. Fundamentally I believe that God is a gracious God and that God’s calling to me is to be a gracious person. Grace helps me to be far less judgmental towards others than I would otherwise be inclined to be. It also helps me to own my failures and to learn from them, or to acknowledge the times when I am driving myself mercilessly and unrealistically. It has also allowed me to acknowledge creativity as something that is sometimes not within my control, but like a muse visits for a time and may depart at another. It has allowed me to find peace in the midst of the work and significantly more joy in life.
Authenticity-To me this is that place where the grace and the competence meet to make me the complex person that I am. I try very hard to be open and honest in my personal and professional life, no longer striving to fit in but rather embracing who I am and claiming my gifts and struggles. I can be hard on myself when I feel a disconnect between my beliefs and my actions, which comes from the competence side, but I have also learned that forgiveness and grace are a fundamental part of who I am and hope to be and I want others to see that embodied in my life.