Self-Worth, Success and Failure, Trying Again

“You’ve designed a product or written an article or created apiece of art that you want to share with a group of friends.  Sharing something that you’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and Wholehearted living.  It’s the epitome of daring greatly.  But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self-worth  to how your product or art is received.  In simple terms, if they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t, you’re worthless.

One of two things happens at this point in the process:

1. Once you realize that your self-worth is hitched to what you’ve produced or created, it’s unlikely that you’ll share it, or if you do, you’ll strip away a layer or two of the juiciest creativity and innovation to make the revealing less risky.  There’s too much on the line to just put your wildest creations out there.

2. If you do share it in its most creative form and the reception doesn’t meet your expectations, you’re crushed.  Your offering is no good and you’re no good.  The chances of soliciting feedback, reengaging, and going back to the drawing board are slim.  You shut down  Shame tells you that you shouldn’t have tried.  Shame tells you that you’re not good enough and you should have known better.

If you’re wondering what happens if you attach your self-worth to your art or your product and people love it, let me answer that from personal and professional experience.  You’re in even deeper trouble.  Everything shame needs to hijack and control your life is in place.  You’ve handed over your self-worth to what people think.  It’s panned out a couple of times, but now it feels a lot like Hotel California: You can check in, but you can never leave  You’re officially a prisoner of ‘pleasing, performing, and perfecting.’

With an awareness of shame and strong shame resilience skills, this scenario is completely different.  You still want folks to like, respect, and even admire what you’ve created, but your self-worth is not on the table.  You know that you are far more than a painting, an innovating idea, an effective pitch, a good sermon, or a high Amazon.com ranking.  Yes, it will be disappointing and difficult if your friends or colleagues don’t share your enthusiasm, or if things don’t go well, but this effort is about what you do, not who you are.  Regardless of the outcome, you’ve already dared greatly, and that’s totally aligned with your values; with who you want to be.

When our self-worth isn’t on the line, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.  From my research with families, schools, and organizations, it’s clear that shame-resilient cultures nurture folks who are much more open to soliciting, accepting, and incorporating feedback.  These cultures also nurture engaged, tenacious people who expect to have to try and try again to get it right – people who are much more willing to get innovative and creative in their efforts.”

From Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown

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This entry was posted in Leadership, Management, Self-Awareness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Self-Worth, Success and Failure, Trying Again

  1. Jodi says:

    I love Brene Brown. She’s fantastic…and this resonates, as you probably knew it would. Thanks!

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