Brené Brown's Blog, page 6

July 16, 2012

Jeune Fille Endormie by Pablo Picasso (1935)


In Daring Greatly, I share what I've learned about one of the greatest dares of all - parenting. I write about the challenges of wholehearted parenting in a scarcity culture and why what we teach our children is important, but not nearly as important as who we are. The real challenge of wholehearted parenting is to be the adults that we want our children to grow up to be.


I came across this quote from Picasso and thought, "This is exactly what we need to create . . . a world (families, schools, culture) worthy of our children.


“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children?


We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.


When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them:


Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique.


In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move.


You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?


You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” 
- Pablo Picasso

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Published on July 16, 2012 20:21 • 28 views

July 5, 2012


Last year I was lucky enough to spend several hours with Benjamin Zander in the Green Room at The UP Experience. We were both speaking at the event and we had the opportunity to talk about music and hope (our topics for the day). As he closed his talk, the entire audience was standing singing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in German (he handed out the lyrics) as he conducted. 


I fell completely in love with Ode to Joy (and Benjamin Zander)!


Charlie recently learned a very simple version of the music in his piano class. That's him and his piano partner in the picture above! I think that picture just screams JOY! Now Charlie plays Ode to Joy for me every morning. It's such a great way to start the day.  


I came across this yesterday and thought you might like it. It gives me goosebumps and makes me happy! You can watch Benjamin Zander's TED talk here. 


 


The event was sponsord by Spain’s Banco Sabadell. Featuring Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the choirs of Lieder and Friends of l’Opera and the Choral Belles Arts. It's conducted by Josef Vila Casañas.

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Published on July 05, 2012 08:33 • 30 views

June 28, 2012

I started the Inspiration Interview Series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to practice courage, be creative, and dream big. Mati Rose McDonough is one of those people. Meet Mati!


[image error]Image by Leslie Sophia Lindell


Mati Rose McDonough is an artist, illustrator and new author who lives in the Bay Area. Mati studied painting at the California College of the Arts and has had many shows around the country. She has taught painting retreats in the U.S. and Italy.


Mati cofounded Teahouse Studios in Berkeley and Get Your Paint On! online painting classes. She is represented by Lilla Rogers Studio in illustration and licensing and has her art published on Patagonia shirts, Pier 1 products, Calypso cards, University Game boards and Madison Park Greeting products.


Mati recently illustrated 2 children's books and published her first painting book "Daring Adventures In Paint".



Ellen and I are crazy about Mati's new book! It's beautiful and inspiringly easy to follow. If you've ever dreamed of sitting down with a brush and creating something - this is the book for you. Ellen and I are going to get our Paint Adventures on this summer!


To celebrate Mati's great new book we're giving away three copies. Just leave your name in the comments section and we'll draw winners on Monday. If you're reading this via your email or Facebook, please leave your comments here (on the blog). 


I love Mati's wisdom and vulnerability. I was also blown away by the quote, the procrastination  strategy, and poem she shares. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy! 


Image by Leslie Sophia Lindell


On Vulnerability, Authenticity and Courage


Creativity, innovation, and truth-telling can be very vulnerable in our culture which is why we often feel deeply inspired when we see it. We’d love to know more about how you find the courage to share your authentic self and your work with the world.


1. Vulnerability is . . . showing the world your magic. It's what makes you, you.


2. What role does vulnerability play in your work? Every time I show up at the canvas, I am riddled with self-doubt, my inner-critic and the risk of failing. I want so badly to create something that I love, and often have an idea of what that may look like, and have to throw any preconceived ideas out the window and let come what may.


This vulnerability and risk-taking on the canvas mirrors that of my own life and my constant striving towards alignment and authenticity. I am in the middle of a painful and growing moment right now going through a divorce and rebuilding my identity: my art is healing that piece and informing what I paint too.


3. Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it? Perfectionism is an issue and tied into my gremlin of procrastination. I have to reframe this as part of the creative process and build time into my schedule time for daydreaming, sketching and making drafts.


Some other practical strategies are: Just begin! I set my timer for a 10-20 minute chunk to start something that really overwhelms me. Once I get started, it’s so much easier to continue on, but I use a lot of mind trickery to get going. OMG, I love this strategy and I'm off to buy a cute timer!


4. What inspires you? Strawberry Rhubarb pie, thick lattes, turquoise, the sea, working with my hands, laughter, eye wrinkles, love, girlfriends and paint!


5. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it? Negativity and feeling hemmed in. I get out my colored markers and big sheets of paper and write gratitude lists and mind-map different ideas on how to approach something.


6. It’s often difficult to share ourselves and our work with the world given the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see in our culture – especially online. What strategies do you use to Dare Greatly – to show up, let yourself be seen, share your work with the world, and deal with criticism I talk about this in my book a lot because it’s such an integral part of the creative process. I try to remember that place that children occupy when they freely share their work from a place of joy and remember that this is possible. That and this Martha Graham quote that reminds me that there is only one of me and my mark at any moment:


“There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost”


[image error]Image by Leslie Sophia Lindell


7. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life.  Awww, a joyful day is this: savoring my morning coffee and then riding my mint green bike in the sun through full bloom Berkeley to my art studio Teahouse. Then busting out my paints and having cookie breaks from the bakery downstairs with my sweet studio-mates.


8. Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart? Love wide and strong!


Image by Leslie Sophia Lindell


Now, for some fun!


From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio


What is your favorite word? treasure


What is your least favorite word? moist


What sound or noise do you love? coffee being ground


What sound or noise do you hate? car alarms


What is your favorite curse word? the f bomb


 Image by Leslie Sophia Lindell


  From JL’s Uncle Jessie Meme  


A song/band/type of music you'd risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio? Glamour rock


Favorite show on television? Friday Night Lights


Favorite movie? The Royal Tannenbaums


Best concert? My first with my sister and best friend when we were 16:  Paul Simon during his Graceland tour


If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? Let your light shine brightly, baby!


Favorite meal? I grew up in Maine so I would have to say summertime lobster, my mom’s potato dill salad, fresh corn on the cob and strawberry rhubarb pie!


A talent you wish you had? Public speaking


Dream vacation? I’ve never been to Paris and it’s a big dream!


What’s on your nightstand? A poem by Raymond Carver:


Late Fragment


And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.


And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth
.


What’s something about you that would surprise us? I played the trombone for 8 years because I was the tallest girl in my class with the longest arms. No fun lugging that beast on the bus every day at age 11!


From Smith Magazine’s Six Word Memoirs


Your six-word memoir? Treasure seeking painting pirate finds herself.



Mati painted these awesome signs and her book includes gorgeous collages of different people holding them. When she asked me to hold one I said, "Heck yeah!" The winners of the books will also get one of these beautiful reminders! 


Connect with Mati here: Website | Twitter = @matirose | Her amazing online shop!

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Published on June 28, 2012 08:52 • 44 views

June 25, 2012

Sisters at Sunset | 2012


I'm enjoying some time away with my favorite companions - family, friends, and nature. I read this poem today and fell in love with it - especially the part about prayers being answered even if when we're not daring to pray or to be happy. 


Wishing you beautiful summer mornings.  


Morning Poem by Mary Oliver 
from Dream Work (1986) 


Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange


sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again


and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands


of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails


for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it


the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---


there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---


each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,


whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

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Published on June 25, 2012 08:04 • 130 views

June 20, 2012

 


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I received napkins with this cartoon on them from a lovely woman I met last year at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. The New Yorker cartoon cracked me up so I did a search to see if there were any other funny takes on vulnerability. This one made me laugh too! 


 


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Laughter is such an important part of soulwork. It forces us to breathe. 

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Published on June 20, 2012 07:51 • 42 views

June 15, 2012

I started the Inspiration Interview Series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to practice courage, be creative, and dream big. Susannah Conway is one of those people. Meet Susannah!



Susannah's newest book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (SKIRT!, 2012), just hit the shelves and it's wonderful! 


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Susannah is a photographer, writer and e-course creator. She is also the co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids (Chronicle Books, 2012).


I think Susannah's gift is helping others reconnect to their true selves, using photography as the key to open the door. Her e-Courses are wonderful! 


To celebrate the launch of This I Know, we're giving away three copies! Just leave your name in the comments section and we'll draw winners on Tuesday! If you're reading this via email, please hop over to the blog to leave your name in the comments section. 


I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did! 


[image error]


On Vulnerability, Authenticity and Courage


Creativity, innovation, and truth-telling can be very vulnerable in our culture which is why we often feel deeply inspired when we see it. We’d love to know more about how you find the courage to share your authentic self and your work with the world.


1. Vulnerability is often uncomfortable and scary, but it is so very important. How else can we know we’re living with our hearts wide open?


2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?  It informs everything I do, really. I don’t know why I have this urge to share so much of my life in such a public way, but it is certainly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.


I write on my blog – and in my book – about the ups and downs of life, through bereavement and healing, to navigating the world as a single woman; I started keeping a journal when I was 11, and have always chronicled my experiences in one form or another. I don’t think my life is even that interesting, but I do know that my preoccupations are shared by many women, and I’m happy to share my thoughts and epiphanies if it will help someone else.


Whenever I read truly heart-felt stories from other people, whether it’s a blog post, article, song, or whatever, I always feel less alone when I see they struggle the same way I do. There is so much healing and connection to be found in our blogging community and it all starts with someone holding up their hand and admitting: ‘Yes, I feel that way too.’


I write and I take photographs, and threaded through both is this need to share truthfully – how I feel, what I see, what I want, what I don’t know. In my six years of blogging I’ve only shared a handful of posts that made me feel overly vulnerable (but I still I didn’t take them down) – most of the time the vulnerability I experience when sharing actually just makes me feel stronger afterwards.



3. Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it? It’s more than an issue – it’s half my brain! Perfectionism is the reason why so many projects have not been started over the years – my thinking was: if I don’t do it, it won’t be crap. Perfectionism crept into everything from my creativity and work to how I (think I should) look. There’s always a flock of ‘not good enoughs’ flying around.


Being asked to write a book – a dream I’d had ever since I learned to read – was like getting on the express train to Procrastination Town. It took me months to start. Months! I convinced myself I had to work out the entire structure of the book before I could write any prose, and while that was certainly something I needed to nail down, I used it as an excuse to fluff around with index cards and stare into space.


Procrastination and perfectionism are closed linked for me – I procrastinate on starting a project because I fear that it won’t be good enough. It doesn’t help that the standards I set for myself are ridiculously high.


In the end what turned it around was the pressure of a deadline. I was the same when I was at college and later working as a journalist – everything was done in the last hour. The pressure of a deadline switches my brain on. 


The best way I manage my perfectionism is to try to accept that everything I do will be imperfect, and that that is okay. I like the concept of wabi sabi – that there is a little bit of imperfection in everything.


4. What inspires you?  Being out in the world, watching people. Travelling to new places, at home and abroad. The potential of a blank page in my Moleskine. Blogs and magazines, books and films. The way my nephew moves through his world. Nature and all her incredible majesty. Conversations with my women friends. Synchronicity and paying attention. A camera in my hands.


5. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it? Well, the procrastination + perfectionism cocktail is the biggest block to my creativity, but often I’m simply uninspired. When that happens I try to get outside and change my scenery. I’ll write in a café, take photos in the park, or, if it’s really bad, I’ll leave working until the next day. If I’m really forcing it whatever I produce will be dull and uninteresting.


6. It’s often difficult to share ourselves and our work with the world given the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see in our culture – especially online. What strategies to you use to Dare Greatly – to show up, let yourself be seen, share your work with the world, and deal with criticism? I close my eyes, cross my fingers and jump! Honestly, sometimes that’s how it feels. I’ve been very lucky and not had to deal with much criticism, though I do remember word-for-word all the mean-spirited blog comments I’ve received over the years.


And, of course, now that my book is out in the world I’m bracing myself for negative reviews on Amazon. The further my work travels the more I’m aware of how I’m opening myself up to potential attack. When it comes – and I have no doubt that it will, eventually – I will lean heavily on my friends and family to help me keep it real.


Then I will cuddle my nephew while we watch a few episodes of Meg and Mog together, and remind myself that not everyone will get what I’m doing, and that that is okay. I’m still going to be as honest as I can.


7. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life. Last week my sister emailed me early in the morning asking if I could babysit my 2-year-old nephew because she was still sick and there was no room for him at nursery. I replied immediately and said yes, I would be there. I canceled everything I had planned for the day, jumped in the shower and then legged it to catch the next train.


An hour later I arrived at her local train station. As I walked over the bridge to reach the car park – where I knew she’d be waiting to collect me – I spotted Abby and Noah waiting at the end of the bridge. Abby was crouched down, holding Noah back as the other passengers walked past. But when he spotted me she let him go – he ran up the walkway, weaving in and out of the other people, until he reached me and launched himself into my arms. He hugged me so tightly I thought my heart would explode right then and there. I actually get quite teary just thinking about it. My nephew is my favourite person in the whole wide world.


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8. Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?


The last paragraph of chapter nine in my book sums it up for me:


"I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves we can truly make a difference in the world. I’m not an activist or politician, and I’m not able to have any direct impact on the areas of the world where help is needed. But what I can do is make a difference in the small pocket of the world I call home.


I can live with integrity and be honest about my feelings, even when they hurt. I can put my whole heart into my work and pay forward the generosity that was shown to me when my world fell apart. I can look after myself, knowing that by healing my own hurts I won’t be passing them on to anyone else. In a society like ours, filled with so many emotionally wounded people acting out their pain, this is possibly the most important work we could ever do—heal our hurts so we don’t pass them on."


 


Now, for some fun!


From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio


 What is your favorite word? Luscious.


What is your least favorite word? Fecund. Also the expression “beggar’s belief” – aargh, hate it.


What sound or noise do you love? The way my nephew says my name.


What sound or noise do you hate? The tinny thumping sound of neighbours playing loud techno late at night.


What is your favorite curse word? F*ck. And the expression “for f*ck’s sake.”


From JL’s Uncle Jessie Meme


 A song/band/type of music you'd risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio?   Most modern-day pop drives me insane. Cheesy boy bands in particular.  


Favorite show on television? True Blood. (Also really love the Vampire Diaries… what? Don’t look at me like that ;-)


Favorite movie? It’s a tie between Desperately Seeking Susan and Solaris (the Clooney version).


Best concert? I’m not really a concert-going kinda gal. But I do love live comedy. Most recent gig was Craig Campbell – the “Canadian Billy Connolly” -- who was hilarious.


If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? “PMS survivor”


Favorite meal? Fish ‘n’ chips with lots of vinegar and ketchup. Preferably eaten by the sea. I am English, after all.


A talent you wish you had? I wish I could paint the images I see in my head.


Dream vacation? A long weekend in New York City, every month.


What’s on your nightstand? Lip balm. Glass of water. Reading glasses. Notebook and pen. Small bottle of perfume oil (gardenia). Lamp. Books are piled up under the nightstand.


What’s something about you that would surprise us? I swear like a sailor. But never in front of my mum.


From Smith Magazine’s Six Word Memoirs 


Your six-word memoir: Despite everything, she loved her life.


Connect with Susannah: Twitter @SusannahConway  | Website SusannahConway.com


Don't forget to leave your name in the comments section to win a copy of the new book! 

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Published on June 15, 2012 07:52 • 16 views

June 12, 2012


Last year, after I had finished a talk on wholehearted families, a man approached me on the stage. He stuck out his hand and said, “I just want to say thank you.” I shook his hand and offered a kind smile as he looked down at the floor. I could tell that he was fighting back tears.


He took a deep breath and said, “I have to tell you that I really didn’t want to come tonight. I tried to get out of it, but my wife made me.”


I smiled. “Yeah, I get that a lot.” 


“I couldn’t understand why she was so excited. I told her that I couldn’t think of a worse way to spend a Thursday night than listening to a shame researcher. She said that it was really important to her and I had to stop complaining, otherwise I’d ruin it for her.”  He paused for a few seconds, then surprised me by asking, “Are you a Harry Potter fan?”


I stalled for a second while I tried to connect everything he was saying. When I finally gave up, I answered his question. “Yes, I am a huge fan. I’ve read all of the books several times, and I’ve watched and re-watched the movies. I’m hardcore. Why?”


He looked a little embarrassed before he explained, “Well, I didn’t know anything about you, and as my dread built up about coming tonight, I kept picturing you as Snape. I thought you’d be scary. I thought you’d be wearing all black, and that you’d talk slowly and in a deep, haunting voice – like the world was ending.”


I laughed so hard that I almost spit out the water I was drinking. “I love Snape! He’s my favorite character.” I immediately glanced over at my purse, which was still tucked under the bottom of the podium. In it my keys were (and are) attached to my beloved LEGO Snape keychain.



We shared a laugh about his Snape projection, then things got more serious. “What you said really made sense to me. Especially the part about us being so afraid of the dark stuff. What’s the quote that you shared from your book - the one with the picture of the twinkle lights?”


“Oh, the twinkle light quote: ‘Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.’”


He nodded. “Yes! That one! I’m sure that’s why I didn’t want to come. It’s crazy how much energy we spend trying to avoid these hard topics when they’re really the only ones that can set us free. I was shamed a lot growing up and I don’t want to do that to my three kids. I want them to know they’re enough. I don’t want them to be afraid to talk about the hard shit with us. I want them to be shame resilient.”


At this point we were both teary-eyed. I reached up and did that awkward “are you a hugger?” gesture, then I gave him a big ol’ hug. After we let go of our this-stuff-is-hard-but-we-can-do-it embrace, he looked at me and said, “I’m pretty bad at vulnerability, but I’m really good at shame. Is getting past shame necessary for getting to vulnerability?”


“Yes. Shame resilience is key to embracing our vulnerability. We can’t let ourselves be seen if we’re terrified by what people might think. Often ‘not being good at vulnerability’ means that we’re damn good at shame.”


As I stumbled for better language to explain how shame stops us from being vulnerable and connected, I remembered my very favorite exchange from Harry Potter. “Do you remember when Harry was worried that he might be bad because he was angry all of the time and had dark feelings?”


He enthusiastically answered, “Yes! Of course! The conversation with Sirius Black! That’s the moral of the entire story.”


“Exactly! Sirius told Harry to listen to him very carefully, then he said, ‘You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.’”


“I get it,” he sighed.


“We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us – that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough – and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.”


At this point, his wife was waiting by the stage stairs. He thanked me, gave me another quick hug, and walked away. Just as he reached the bottom of the stairs, he turned back and said, “You may not be Snape, but you’re a damn good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!” 


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It was a conversation and a moment that I’ll never forget. On the way home that night, I thought about a line from one of the books where Harry Potter was detailing the fate of several unsuccessful Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers: “One sacked, one dead, one lost his memory, and one was locked in a trunk for nine months.”  I remember thinking, “Sounds about right.”


J.K. Rowling’s incredible imagination has made teaching shame a lot easier and way more fun. The allegorical power of Harry Potter lends itself to talking about everything from the struggle between light and dark to the hero’s journey and why vulnerability and love are the truest marks of courage.


Having spent so long trying to describe and define unnamed emotions and experiences, I find that Harry Potter has given me a treasure trove of characters, monsters, and images to use in my teaching. 


I'm so grateful to J.K. Rowling and to the brave men and women who share their stories with me! Shame is the big daddy of dementors, but we're stronger. Expecto Patronum! 

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Published on June 12, 2012 07:14 • 61 views

June 8, 2012


Excerpted from Daring Greatly


Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.


If we want to teach our chilldren to dare greatly in this “never enough” culture, the question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way?” as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”.  


I don't know about y'all, but for me knowing is way easier than being. 

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Published on June 08, 2012 10:12 • 18 views

June 4, 2012

 



 


My One Little Word for 2012 is light. Every month I'm sharing one of my favorite quotes about light. 


This quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is inspiring me right now. Faith, family, resting, and nesting are the keepers of my internal light. I know exactly what I need when that "inside light" dims. What about you?


Thanks to Elan from Ninjamatics who designed these graphics. 

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Published on June 04, 2012 05:30 • 23 views

May 31, 2012

I started the Inspiration Interview Series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to practice courage, be creative, and dream big. Susan Cain is one of those people. Meet Susan! 



I met Susan at TED. Her talk on "The Power of Introverts" had me crying and cheering. People often find it hard to believe that I am an introvert, but I am. I just didn't have the words to describe it until I read Susan's book, QUIET: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking. 


Susan's writing on introversion has struck a global nerve. Quiet is a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Her writing on introversion and shyness has appeared in newspapers and magazines all over the world, including the The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Time.com. You can check out all of her media coverage here.


Her TED talk - the one that had me tears - is the most rapidly viewed talk in TED history. Grab a cup of tea and watch it here. 


To celebrate Susan's book and incredible work, we're giving away three copies of Quiet. Just leave your name in the comments section and we'll draw winners on Monday. If you're reading this post on e-mail or Facebook, please leave your comments here for the drawing.


Enjoy the interview!



On Vulnerability, Authenticity and Courage


Creativity, innovation, and truth-telling can be very vulnerable in our culture which is why we often feel deeply inspired when we see it. We’d love to know more about how you find the courage to share your authentic self and your work with the world.


1. Vulnerability is: Telling the truth about what you really think and fear.


2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?  Ha! Vulnerability IS my work. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was four. But I’ve always been drawn to writing about tender, raw, personal subjects–  so at first I decided that I’d have to confine my writing to journal entries that no one would ever see.


It’s only recently that I’ve screwed up the courage to share my ideas with the world. With QUIET, I had to get used to the world seeing me through the “introvert” lens. This is uncomfortable, because introversion is stigmatized in our culture – I mean, that’s the raison d’etre of the book! If it weren’t stigmatized, I wouldn’t have had to write it in the first place. But I’ve gotten used to the exposure over time.


3. What does authenticity mean to you and how do you practice it in your work? I’ve always felt that one-on-one interactions are the most true and sublime form of communication. So I try to keep that mentality even when I’m writing or speaking to a crowd. I practiced my TED talk with a presentation coach, and we spent the whole first day just sitting on a couch facing each other, while I said the words to him and he gave me his reactions.


4. Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it? It’s a HUGE issue. Deadlines are the only real way to manage it. If something is due, then my perfectionist nature tells me I have to meet the deadline and just get on with things. 


5. What inspires you?  The feeling I get when an artist or writer expresses in a gorgeous way something I’ve always felt but never had words for. Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and I love those moments of connection with a writer I’ve never met and who might not even be alive anymore.


6. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it? Fear inhibits creativity, especially the fear of being judged. But personal conviction is the great vanquisher of fear. When I feel afraid of potential criticism, or wounded when it comes, I ask myself: Do you really believe in what you said or wrote – in the thing that’s bringing criticism? And if I do believe it, I can withstand anything. Not that criticism doesn’t sting – sometimes I feel punched in the stomach momentarily. But the moment does pass.


7. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life. Putting my two boys to bed. They snuggle on either side of me while I read a book or tell them a story. Pure heaven.


8. Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?  “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” – Mary Lou Kownacki (via my friend Courtney Martin, who signs off all her emails with these words.)


Now, for some fun!


From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio  


 What is your favorite word? Chocolate.


What is your least favorite word? Paperwork.


What sound or noise do you love? Wind blowing gently in the trees.


From JL’s Uncle Jessie Meme


Favorite show on television?  The Discovery Channel used to have a show called Sunrise Earth, where they filmed sunrises in high def, around the globe. I used to have it on in the background while I edited my book. Lovely.


Favorite movie? Breakfast at Tiffanys.


Best concert? Leonard Cohen’s recent world tour. I saw him in Connecticut.


If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? "HAVE THE COURAGE TO SPEAK SOFTLY or INTROVERSION IS THE NEW BLACK.


Favorite meal? Anything prepared in a great Indian restaurant.


A talent you wish you had? Singing (Though truthfully, since I have stage fright, I’m much better off as a writer.)


Dream vacation? Sitting on my front porch looking at the magnolia trees.


What’s on your nightstand? The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell


From Smith Magazine’s Six Word Memoirs


Your six-word memoir: I loved, I mothered, I wrote. (Is that too sappy? I hate having to avoid the truth for fear of being sappy! Those are the three important things in my life, hands down).


Connecting with Susan: Facebook | Twitter @SusanCain | Website 


I don't know about y'all, but I don' think loving, mothering, and writing is sappy at all! Sounds like the best parts of my life! 


Hope you enjoyed meeting Susan!  Don't forget to leave your name in the comments. 

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Published on May 31, 2012 07:13 • 15 views