Are you living a wholehearted life? Are you embracing your imperfections at work? I know what you’re thinking: “Imperfections? Wholehearted living? And Corporate America… Uh, check please.”
Dr. Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, offer lessons on just how important embracing our imperfections is to not only cultivating a happier life, but also for creating a strong and successful business. The popularity of her C-Suite (an audience comprised mainly of CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc.) and TED talks indicate that Brown isn’t the only one aware of this. Early on in The Gifts of Imperfection we learn that Brown is often guided to speak to businessmen and women about things as basic as how to use accountability rather than shame to change behavior. One particular example highlights how a manager, frustrated from explaining the criteria for a project to a particularly troublesome employee, ended up berating the employee in front of others. The manager unconsciously used this tactic, hoping publicly shaming the employee would whip her or him into shape. Sound familiar? We’ve all encountered managers and bosses like this.
Readers are taught how to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” While some may fear that terms like wholehearted living, shame and compassion can never be clearly or easily discussed, Brown uses structured, well-worded definitions that keep readers on the same page when dealing with each concept. In a greater effort to keep the book from flying off into the clouds, Brown ends each chapter with three actions steps readers can use today to begin “Digging Deep.”
The book starts by explaining how wholehearted living (the decision to cultivate courage, compassion, and connection in an effort to live from a place of worthiness) is not a one-time choice, but rather an ongoing process. In each chapter, entrepreneurs or employees can pull a strong list of building blocks that can help in growing their business or career. For example, in “Cultivating Authenticity” entrepreneurs learn how breaking away from what people think they should do and beginning to trust in what they themselves feel, is an important step toward thinking creatively and embracing that whacky, never-been-done-before business idea that just might become a huge success. Or in “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit” employees can identify key action steps to keep them from falling prey to feelings of powerlessness in their career.
But whether your focus is cultivating the courage to step off the beaten path and take a chance on a business, reaching for a career-defining promotion, or something else entirely, readers will come away from The Gifts of Imperfection with enough juice to energize them to live as fully as possible. The book, broken into 10 guideposts, builds off the previous chapters in an effort to reinforce everything you learn along the way. Maybe the workaholics will think only guidepost seven is for them: “Cultivating Play and Rest,” or the entrepreneurs may feel they only need guidepost six: “Cultivating Creativity.” However, there is no less value in guidepost eight’s lessons on “Cultivating Calm and Stillness,” or learning to let go of “being cool” and always having to be in control. What would it mean for your life if you could learn to live authentically (choosing to show up and be honest, choosing to let our true selves be seen) and with connection from morning to night? Brown’s point is that not only is it possible, it is necessary for true success in every facet of our lives.
Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher, writer, and professor. She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she spent the last 10 years studying wholeheartedness, shame, and more. Brown’s work has been featured on a number of outlets including PBS and OWN; her articles have appeared in magazines like Self and Elle, and many national newspapers. Brown is also the author of I Thought It Was Just Me and Daring Greatly.