Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count

I just returned from presenting the Investing in YOU workshop in Rockhampton. As much as I love doing workshops and sharing my experiences of life, there is a part of presenting that has been challenging for me over the years and that is receiving feedback.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE receiving constructive feedback from people who come from a place of whole-heartedness or heartful-ness and are supportive. However, there is another side to feedback. I don’t know what it is, but ever since my days growing up and playing tennis, I have found it challenging to deal with people that make deliberate personal attacks at you – even though I realise the comments and feedback are coming from their perceptions of reality and not reality per se (and I don’t react like I used too – which maybe has been part of the gift of these people in my life?).

Then on Friday night I came across this video clip from Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count. In this 22.40min clip Brené talks about –

  • the perspiration from fear
  • the personal comments/attacks she received after her talks went viral
  • what would you try if you knew people wouldn’t say ___ (fill in your blank) about you?
  • the quote that changed her life – “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, the Man in the Arena. Delivered at the Sorbonne (Paris) on April 23, 1910 (also happened to change mine).
  • when you show up and be seen – “you are going to get your arse kicked.” (i.e. if courage is a value you hold, this is a consequence). Love this!
  • “…if you are not in the arena and also getting your arse kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.” For example if you are in the cheap seats, just talking about how I could do it better and you are not in the arena, I am in no way interested in your feedback. Another piece of wisdom – thanks will keep this for later.
  • when you are thinking about the arena or preparing to go in to the arena there is fear, self-doubt, comparison, anxiety, uncertainty and shame. When people know this they armour up and when they armour up from the vulnerability they are cutting themselves off from the birthplace of love, joy, belonging, trust, empathy, creation and innovation.
  • when you walk out to the arena you see lots of seats and lots of people, but mostly we focus on the critics. Know that the critics will be there – 1. shame (universal human emotion), 2. scarcity (What am I doing that is original? What am I contributing? Does this really matter?) and 3. comparison (comparing ourselves with other). The fourth seat is your teacher, ex-coworker, family member. Invite these critics and people into the arena – “I see you, I hear you, but I am going to show up and do this anyway” – however you may not be interested in their feedback.
  • if you are going to choose to be seen you need – 1. a clarity of values, and 2. have one person in your life that is willing to pick you up and dust you off when you fail (if you’re not failing you are not really showing up).
  • know that – the world keeps going, whether you like it or not. The critics are going to be in the arena (so might as well invite them in). Also – don’t forget to invite yourself in to the arena (as we are often our own worst critic). Yes it is scary and terrifying to show up and be seen, but it is not as scary and terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking – “What if I would have shown up? What would have been different?”
  • how not caring what people think – sends a huge red flag up for Brené as we are hardwired for connection and when we stop caring what people think we lose our capacity for connection.

I can relate to this talk in so many ways and why in the past, I allowed myself not to be seen and show my own vulnerability. I built up many layers of protection around my heart and used many strategies to numb myself out, but fortunately life had other ideas and I started taking notice of the messages it was trying to send me and peeling back the layers.

I really hope that this talk inspires you and allows you to take that one small step to allow yourself to being seen for who you are (because you are worth it). Feel free to share any comments below on this video Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count or on our Facebook page.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?