"The idea that vulnerability equals weakness is still the biggest myth in our culture," says Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW, who has spent 12 years studying vulnerability — and the lack thereof — in modern society.
Brown is the author of the New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly, and her groundbreaking research has been featured on NPR, CNN and in the Washington Post. Just this year, she was chosen as the closing speaker for the renowned TED Conference in Long Beach.
On Wednesday, October 24, Brown will give a keynote address to the Texas Conference for Women in Austin, the largest women's conference in the state. Her professional life has been devoted to examining concepts often thought intangible: shame, vulnerability, authenticity and connection.
"We get sucked into perfection for one very simple reason: We believe perfection will protect us," she once wrote for CNN. "Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame."
"We can't inspire or lead other people unless we're willing to be vulnerable and we are willing to let our humanity shine a little bit," Brown says.
In front of Wednesday's powerful audience, Brown will chip away at the lacquered exterior many females assemble as armor against outside influences — media, bosses, friends or that unrelenting inner voice.
"The bottom line of what I'm going to talk about is why, as leaders in our communities and lives, we can't inspire or lead other people unless we're willing to be vulnerable and we are willing to let our humanity shine a little bit," she says.
"We will talk about what courage looks like and what it means to practice courage in our lives — and why vulnerability is a prerequisite for that. What are the risks associated with 'showing up,' being seen, asking for what we need, talking about how we feel, and putting work out in the world when there's no guarantee that people will like it or understand it."
Brown hopes to encourage women to let go of these learned fears and play big. "When we have ideas and passion and we hold back, those goals and dreams don't dissipate; they metastasize and turn into resentment, grief and judgment."
A Houston native and current research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Brown relishes the opportunity to work with fellow Texans in their personal exploration.
"One of the reasons I love the [Texas Conference for Women] so much is because it's very passionate women who are either on the journey of coming alive or are coming alive and want to step into their power," Brown says.
"They want to dare. They want take personal and professional lives to new levels."
Register online for the Texas Conference for Women at Austin Convention Center October 24.