I’m sitting at home alone on a Friday night drinking a glass of wine, watching romantic comedies, writing in my journal and nursing a massively huge vulnerability hangover. Massive.
My husband is away skiing in Japan, the child who lives at home is out tonight and I’m coming down from weeks of putting myself out into the world in open, risky and vulnerable ways. I’m feeling the opposite of #braveaf tonight. I’m feeling sad, sorry for myself and unworthy.
When we dared to dream up that #braveaf hashtag to promote upcoming events we thought it would be memorable and reflect my commitment to brave, honest conversations. It’s not that I’m not committed to brave, honest conversations anymore — of course I am. To my core I believe that bravely leading challenging conversations are how we solve the problems in our lives, organizations and communities.
But today I’m tired. Tired of putting my work and commitment out into the world and risking rejection. Tired of practicing courage and compassion. Tired of bravely leading.
It turns out some days I don’t have any more brave left in me. We joked when we created the #braveaf hashtag that we should have t-shirts made and I should record videos while wearing my t-shirt. Today my t-shirt would say #sadandlonely #drinkingwine #nursingavulnerabilityhangover. At the very least my t-shirt could say — I’m not feeling very #braveaf today.
It’s a lesson I learned a long time ago, and keep re-learning; that gathering your courage and stepping into it requires you to also have times when you do the opposite. When you step back, retreat and rejuvenate.
The last few weeks have resulted in all of my fears rising. I believe so strongly that the world needs a new kind of leader, willing to show up and take a stand, willing to have brave, honest conversations so we can find solutions together. So I’ve created new events and ways to bring that commitment to the world. After a few months of creation and weeks of putting it out there I’m questioning myself, wondering if I’m building things that aren’t wanted or needed. I’m feeling a bit like Kevin Costner, only I’m building it and not sure if they will come. (If you are much younger than me just google “Field of Dreams” to get that reference.)
I know this is the way it goes when you are an entrepreneur. You risk big and put new ideas into the world. You create, dream and imagine. You build a business based on your ideas, values and commitment. I’ve been an entrepreneur a long time — but that doesn’t make it any easier today. I can’t not do the things that are calling me. I’m assuming that brave, honest conversations are wanted in the world. Tonight I’m questioning that. Maybe it’s only me who wants them? This is a really big pity party I’m at. Tonight I’m wondering if this is instead a great year for working part time, travelling a lot and finishing my book — and leaving the heavy lifting of creating new ways of leading in the world to others.
I guess that is why they call it courage.
You can’t be brave unless you are afraid.
Tonight my version of brave is messy, sad, has low self-esteem and is eating chocolate. And I’m hoping that is OK. I will let you know when I’ve created the t-shirt. We can wear them together on the days when we are NOT #braveaf.
A) Note: If you are interested in joining me for more brave, honest conversations please check out GATHER: 5 days of Brave, Honest Conversations ONLINE from May 13-17, 2019.
B) Another note: In 2018 I wrote a list of what living brave looks like for me. (I probably should have read it before I launched #braveaf!) If you would like to have that list of 8 tips for living brave sent to your inbox please click here.