Here’s a wonderful story from Brene Brown from her Power of Vulnerability presentation at RSA (see below for video). It has a great Better Tomorrow Message ™. It has a nice blend of seriousness and humor. She is self-deprecating. The story flows well. All around, an excellent example of a personal experience that can be told as a business story/workplace story.
When you StoryThink™ as we like to call it, you will reframe experiences into stories that address workplace issues. For example, “Stop Blaming Steve” could be used as a culture story, a story for change, a customer service story, a story for healing, a signature story for a thought leader, and so forth.
This is the transcript from Brene Brown and her Power of Vulnerability presentation. Fast forward to 10:05.
Please note. Public speaking from a stage is difficult. During every live presentation, new and experienced speakers alike, will have some grammar missteps, use a few filler words, and have a run-on sentence here and there. To account for these, I have edited Brene’s story just a little.
Stop Blaming Steve, a Brene Brown Story
How many of you are blamers? How many of you, when something goes wrong, the first thing you want to know is, whose fault it is? Hi. My name is Brene Brown and I am a blamer.
I need to tell you this quick story. This is a couple years ago, when I first realized the magnitude to which I blame. I’m in my house. I have on white slacks and a pink sweater set. I’m getting ready to go teach. And I’m drinking a cup of coffee in my kitchen. It’s a full cup of coffee. I drop it on the tile floor. It goes into a million pieces, splashes up all over me.
The first, I mean the first thought, to a millisecond after it hits the floor. Right out of my mouth is this, “Damn you Steve.” He’s my husband. Because let me tell you how fast this works for me. Steve plays water polo with a group of friends. And the night before, he went to go play water polo. And I said, “Hey, make sure you come back at 10 because you know, I can never fall asleep until you are home.”
He got back at 10:30, chatting it up with his friends. I went to bed a little bit later than I thought. Ergo, my second cup of coffee, I probably would not be having, had he come home, when we discussed, at 10:00.
I’m going to assume, you’re laughing with me, not at me. How many women are thinking, “that makes absolute sense? And how many men in here are thinking, “Oh, that’s how it works.” Right. And the rest of the story is. I’m cleaning up the kitchen. Steve calls. I see caller ID. “Hey.” He’s like, “Hey, what’s going on babe?” “What’s going on?” (said in an annoyed voice) “I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on. I’m cleaning up the coffee that spilled all…” “Duuuuuuuuuuuu” (sound). I hear the sound of the dial tone.
Because he knows. How many of you go to that place, when something bad happens? The first thing you want to know is, whose fault is it? Even me. Even I’d rather it be my fault than no one’s fault. Because why? Why? Because it gives us some semblance of control. It gives us some semblance of control.
Blame is the discharge of discomfort and pain
If you enjoy blaming. This is where you should stick your fingers in your ears and do the nuh-nuh-nuh-thing (sticking fingers ears). Because I’m getting ready to ruin it for you. Here’s what we know from the research. Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Meaning, people who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit to actually hold people accountable. They expend all of their energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault it is.
Accountability is a vulnerable process.
Accountability by definition, is a vulnerable process. It means me calling you and saying, “Hey, my feelings were really hurt about this…” and explaining. It’s not blaming. Blaming is simply a way we discharge anger. Which is really hard. And blaming is very corrosive in relationships. It’s one of the reasons we miss our opportunities for empathy. Because when something happens and we’re hearing a story, we’re not really listening. We’re in the place where I was. Making the connections as quickly as we can, about whose fault something was.
Brene Brown, Power of Vulnerability
About Brene Brown
If you are not familiar with Brene Brown, she is a rockstar (her website). Her rise to stardom began with her 2011 TED presentation, Power of Vulnerability. This is how I heard of her. And not because of how great her TEDTalk was. Rather, because she made fun of storytelling in her opening. She was contrasting being a researcher, sharing data and research, and being a storyteller. And then she drank the cool aid and became an enlightened storyteller. Today Brene Brown happily calls herself a “Researcher. Storyteller. Longhorn.”
She has 9 books including Braving the Wilderness; Rising Strong; Daring Greatly; The Gifts of Imperfection; I Thought it was Just Me; Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice; The Power of Vulnerability; Men, Women & Worthiness; and her most recent Dare to Lead. Also, Brene Brown has a very popular podcast, Unlocking Us.
MORE EXCELLENT BUSINESS STORIES TO READ
- Beat the Odds (read)
- Ride Space Mountain. It Won’t Kill You (read)
- Bring Back Child-Like Wonder (read/watch)
- All story examples (go now)
FURTHER READING ON BUSINESS STORYTELLING
- Turn Your Everyday Experiences into Engaging, Powerful Stories (read)
- “Pause” with Purpose in Speaking, Training, and Storytelling (read)
- In Storytelling, Balance Emotion and Benefit (read)
- Add Suspense to Your Story with “Near-Impossible Goals” (read)
- Anaphora – Increase Impact with this Type of Word Repetition (read)
- All Business Storytelling Articles & Posts (go now)
Photography Source: Screen capture from Brene Brown Power of Vulnerability video. Design © Copyright 2020, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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