You will hang on this woman's every word...

In her weekly column Dr Michelle O'Driscoll talks about the inspirational Brene Brown
You will hang on this woman's every word...

Brene is a natural story teller. Whether you’re reading one of her many books, watching her Ted Talk, or listening to a podcast episode, you will hang on her every word. Picture: Stock

WITH International Woman’s Day coming up, on March 8, and the theme for 2022 being ‘Break the Bias’, it felt fitting to spotlight a woman in the world of wellbeing research that has contributed so much to celebrating the role of women in research, normalising difference and diversity, and promoting inclusivity through education around our psychological make-up.

Brene Brown is a name that, if you haven’t heard it before, you’re in for a treat. Her contributions to the world of mental wellbeing, psychology and leadership are invaluable. Her research, spanning two decades, is dedicated to studying the heavy but important topics of courage, shame, vulnerability and empathy.

Having interviewed literally thousands of study participants from all walks of life, and analysed the transcripts to uncover the commonalities of humanity in relation to these topics, she has shone a light on what makes us tick.

Her work exposes what unifies us as human beings, and how to overcome challenges that we face in embracing our differences.

Brene is a natural story teller. Whether you’re reading one of her many books, watching her Ted Talk, or listening to a podcast episode, you will hang on her every word.

Her wicked sense of humour is a welcome sprinkle of lightness in what otherwise could be heavy-going content, but the wisdom that she imparts in her unique way stays with you long after you turn off the phone or put down the book.

Here are some Brene Brown highlights, which I would recommend exploring if you want to Break the Bias and learn more about some universal human truths!

Books

Other than her academic papers, Brene’s collection of publications is extensive. Her debut book, I Thought It Was Just Me, explores the topic of women and shame. Possibly her most famous book to date is Daring Greatly, which explores the concept of courage and vulnerability. It explains how vulnerability is not a weakness, but instead one of our greatest strengths. Implementing this in the office or corporate settings is made possible through the actionable steps outlined in Dare To Lead.

Her newest publication, which is already receiving rave reviews, is Atlas of the Heart, a journey through an impressive total of 87 emotions, and the tools required to build meaningful conversation and relationships in our lives. It’s a powerful guide to creating connection, embracing difference and celebrating common humanity.

Podcasts

Brene is never one to shy away from tough conversations or difficult questions. She uses her two podcast platforms to explore the key topics of her research in greater depth. Through insightful interviews, she unearths golden nuggets that cause you to stop in your tracks and gain new perspectives on life as you thought you knew it.

Unlocking Us is an appropriate title for one of her podcast series. Some of the highlights include her episode with Ibram X. Kendi on how to be an anti-racist, with Tarana Burke on Being Heard and Seen, and with Dr Vivek Murthy on Loneliness and Connection.

Ted Talks

As you might have gathered, Brene as a character is larger than life and her strong stage presence is a joy to watch. In her most famous Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability which has an astounding 17 million views to date, she heroes Roosevelt’s The Man in The Arena speech. It’s a passage that speaks to the heart, and epitomises what she has come to know about being vulnerable and showing up with courage. A game changer, and well worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.

With a tagline on her website of ‘Keeping it awkward, brave and kind’, Brene practices what she preaches and remains authentically herself, regardless of the situation or circumstance.

As a woman in research, she stands tall, and stands out. Her work goes a long way towards breaking bias around female contributions, or indeed expressing yourself outside of the acceptable mould.

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