Since Dr. Brené Brown came on the scene with her massively popular TED Talk back in 2010, she’s been preaching the importance of courage and the destructiveness of shame. Her incredible message has won her fans the world over, including Oprah Winfrey who calls her a “soulmate.” At Re:Make 2016, she took the stage to talk specifically to makers. Her message: “If you send your art into the world with an armored heart, it’s got no magic in it. It’s got no joy in it.” So how do you take off that armor?


1. “You must live in the arena.” What’s the arena? “The arena is where you put your thoughts, your art out there and aren’t afraid what people are going to think, ” she said. This is the place where you are vulnerable and will get your butt kicked. But, you need to tell yourself, “I will live in the arena. I’ll live my life in a brave way that I can be proud of.”

2. “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked every day, I’m not open to your feedback.” Brené points out that the arena’s seats are filled with shame, inadequacy and comparison. “You can’t focus in those seats,” she adds. At some point, you have to say, “I’m going to be brave anyway and you’re not the people I’m going to look at.” She recommends taking a one-inch by one-inch piece of paper, and use it to make a list of the people whose opinion really matter. *Those* are the seats you want to watch.

3. “You’ve gotta stop being cool. Cool is an emotional straightjacket.” Brené points out that cool shuts us down, because you start paying too much attention to the judgment of others. “If you’ve got one eye on the other lane, you’ll just create something someone else is creating.”

4. “Talk to yourself like you’d talk to someone you love. Share your story with somebody you trust.” Too often, we as makers tear ourselves down the minute we make a mistake or in a moment of insecurity. Brené says to think about how you’d talk to a child. Would you tell that child, “That was stupid!” Never. Choose self-love over self-criticism.

5. “Not using your creativity is not benign.” Brené points out that many of us choose to drop out instead of leaving ourselves open. She reiterates her trademark line: “Vulnerability is the courage to show up and put your creativity into the world. “As makers, you have to choose courage or choose comfort.”

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(Photo via Chris Andre)