Rising Strong describes a 3-phase process of bouncing back from failure, which you can implement both in your own life and as a team or company, in order to embrace setbacks as part of life, deal with your emotions, confront your own ideas and rise stronger every time.
Brené Brown doesn’t always pick up a pen, but when she does…she writes a bestseller. Seriously. This is her third and latest #1 New York Times bestseller, all of which deal with vulnerability, worthiness, fear, bravery and other emotions, which can hold us back (or propel us forward) in life.
Rising Strong is about recovering from failure, in order to not be held back by your past mistakes from trying again. In Daring Greatly, Brené made a case for being vulnerable, but it takes courage to do so and it entails risk. This book is about learning how to not shy away from that risk, stepping up and saying “Yes, let me try that again.” even after you’ve failed before.
The process of rising strong is divided into three distinct phases, which, once you know the underlying principles of, you can recognize and move through again and again to get stronger with each of your failures.
Here are the 3 phases in more detail:
- Reckon with your emotions by noticing and investigating them.
- Rumble with the stories you tell yourself to uncover false beliefs.
- Revolutionize your attitude with the results, like Brené changed hers about generosity.
Do you want to recover from rough patches faster? Then let’s learn how to rise stronger together!
Lesson 1: Reckoning is when you pay attention to your emotions and dare to ask questions about them.
Do you know someone who seems to take setbacks like they’re no big deal? Someone, who can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and just soldier on, despite the odds being overwhelmingly against them? I know someone like that: me.
I’ve always had an unwavering sense of optimism, which my parents instilled in me, but only in the past two years has it become really productive, in the sense that I rarely fret about what went wrong and instead focus my energy on fixing it.
Therefore, I can vouch for the two steps Brené describes as the parts of reckoning with your emotions:
Recognize your emotions, by giving yourself permission to feel.
Ask yourself why you’re feeling these emotions, be curious and investigate.
The reason this works is that by being curious, you’re automatically coming up with creative solutions.
For example, this morning a plumber came by our new flat to fix the water in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and toilet. He arrived at 8:30 AM, and worked until 2 PM. I had to be there the whole time, and since there’s no wifi yet, I got frustrated that things took so long. After recognizing this and asking myself why, I noticed that it was because I felt he was keeping me from working, but immediately realized he’s helping me and that the more things he can fix right now, the less appointments I need to make in total.
My frustration went away instantly and I could relax, let him do his work, and thank him for his help when he left.
But in order to ask these questions, you first have to know what you’re feeling and that requires a lot of work and paying attention.
Lesson 2: Rumbling is what happens when you write down the story you tell yourself, real or not.
Trying to predict the future, based on what’s happened in the past is one way that the narrative fallacy makes us jump to the wrong conclusions. But this doesn’t just happen with logical facts and events, it also happens with our feelings.
We make up stories to cope with our emotions, but sometimes these stories turn into traps we can’t seem to escape from. For example, if your partner leaves you for someone else, you’ll start asking yourself what you did wrong and might eventually come to the conclusion that you didn’t deserve them, because they were too good for you. This’ll help you deal with the break-up, but it will also trap you inside the belief that you’re undeserving of love in general.
But it’s just a story you tell yourself, nothing more. Rumbling is about keeping these stories in check. It’s like a bullshit detector for your own thoughts.
Brené likes to rumble by writing down the story she tells herself about a given situation, which she calls her shitty first draft.
It’s a simple “fill-in-the-blanks” template:
The story I’m making up is…
My emotions tell me…
My body feels…
My thinking seems…
My actions are…
The next time you feel bad, fill in these blanks and write down your shitty first draft. You’ll instantly get some distance, be able to objectively judge your story and be less likely to fall into the trap of your own narrative.
Lesson 3: When you channel your insights from rumbling into positive changes, a revolution follows.
Here’s how reckoning and rumbling can come together to spark a revolution. At a fundraiser for the homeless, Brené’s pastor said: “When you look away from a homeless person, you diminish their humanity.”
Hearing this made her really uncomfortable, so she reckoned with her feelings and discovered that she couldn’t look at homeless people herself, because from her privileged point of view begging seemed like a weak thing to do.
Her shitty first draft said that she didn’t help others enough, that she’s ashamed of how much she has compared to how much she does and that she must do more.
She revolutionized her attitude towards other people and even learned that asking for help is a key part of rising strong, instead of a sign of weakness. That’s a true revolution and that’s what happens when you reckon and rumble with your feelings and thoughts.
My personal take-aways
Brené Brown’s work is very philosophical. It’s all about principles, not tactics. Daring Greatly was one of the most powerful books I’ve learned from this year, and I’m starting to see her as the Seth Godin of feelings. Definitely one of my top 5 authors to follow, be sure to take a look at this, especially if you feel like you’re afraid of trying again, because you’ve failed in the past.