Living Brave with Brene Brown and Oprah Winfrey

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careful Jess

so welcome to living brave thank you for

doing this I'm gonna do it yeah so these

are conversations about courage with

people who I believe are living brave

lives who are inspiring me to be braver

and you're one of those people so family

so we'll start with that all right

we're gonna start with a couple of words

that are really important to me and

really important in my work okay

definition for me

vulnerability is being willing to

express the truth no matter what the

truth of who you are the essence at your

core what you're feeling in any given

moment it's being able to open up your

soul and let it flow so that other

people can see their soul in yours so

this is the first question is your time

I don't know that this is okay yeah give

me an example from your life well what

give me a specific thing that feels

really vulnerable for you still after

all of your experience what's still

vulnerable for you not professionally or

personally uh wait

discussing wait not having conquered the

whole weight struggle figuring out what

to eat next what not to eat the whole

balancing what it means to be a strong

powerful woman in the world juxtaposed

trying to control what you're eating

yeah that's still a vulnerable space for

me so I think when people you know

because we've done work together people

ask me a lot of questions about you and

they tell me the stories they've made up

about you oh yeah really yeah and

they're you know and I you know and I

have stories too but I've gotten to know

you a little bit and I know how

dangerous stories are that we tell

ourselves about ourselves and about

other people especially when we're in

comparison mm-hmm

I think people see you as someone who is


who has no more fear who is conquered at

all what do people not know about you in

terms of struggle still to be brave are

there still some struggles you have

about being brave with your life I've

worked on the disease to please a lot

and as you've heard me say that in 1989

I had a really big breakthrough with

that reading Garry Zhukov's book on


so I started literally living an

intentional life where I don't make any

decisions unless I think about what is

my true pure motivation for doing it

because I do recognize the law of cause

and effect that says the intention

informs even the cause so that before

you have an action there is a reason for

you taking that action and the reason

for the action is what's going to

actually show up in your life on the

other end that's what's going to come

back to you that intention so that

helped me a lot with the disease to

please because I was always giving

giving giving giving giving and then I

was also thrown when people would come

back and and ask for more and I couldn't

understand why they were asking for more

well people ask for more because your

reason for giving it is so that they

think that you're nice that's your real

intention well

they do think you're nice this is hard

to hear keep going they do think you're

nice and that is why they keep coming

back they come back because you're the

nice one you're going to say yes when

even you mean no

so you're the person I'm going to call

to go pick up my kids

when I can't or don't want to because

you're going to say yes even if you

don't want to do it so that's why people

keep coming back when your intention is

not really clear so that that took a lot

of fear away for me but at least for me

a clarity of intention helped me live a

more fearless life I love that so what

if your intention is I want to lead a

brave life and not disappoint anyone

you cannot live a brave life without

disappointing some people I just I know

that in my heart but it sounds really

important as I live a brave life without

disappointing some people but those

people who get disappointed it's really

okay yes the people who really care for

you the people who are rooting for your

rise will not be disappointed the only

people who are disappointed people who

have their own agenda yeah and their

agenda is not aligned with your agenda

and that's how I make myself brave I say

well the people who really care about

you who want you who are rooting for

your rise those people who are rooting

for your rise they're going to be okay

when you say no so let me ask you this

question that's related very tough in

this world that can seem very

unforgiving critical not mean-spirited

sometimes even oh you shut yourself off

from all the feedback and it's dangerous

because you need some of it and you need

to stay open and connected but you open

yourself up to everything and it will

kill you it will make you less brave

because some of it is just not helpful

right how do you and so I want a really

specific answer how do you stay open to

meaningful feedback that can make you

better as a leader at what you do but

also filter out the stuff that is just

mean-spirited that will hurt you and

take you down hmm

well first of all I never read any

comments okay that are coming from

negative people if I start to read

something and shut her down shut it down

I will I will not take I will not take

that in so how do you open to feedback

that is helpful

are there people you go to or do what

how do you do that I have a kitchen

cabinet and I had a kitchen cabinet

since you know the beginning of my

career different people have been in

that kitchen cabinet over the years but

there are a few people who are my

resource who I know are going to tell me

the truth Steadman is going to tell me

the truth

no matter what hard or even hard oh

please okay the harder the truth there

the harder the truther

I got it okay Bob green my friend oh my

gosh brutal sometimes okay brutal to the

point of the the reason why Bob green is

he's like my brother

but the reason why uh you know we remain

friends over the years he's the only

person that that actually been so brutal

with the truth he's made me cry but is

not afraid to tell me just the brutal

truth okay um I have Bob Greene I have

Stedman I have Gayle who are going to

tell me the truth no matter what these

are your truth tellers these are my

truth tellers

I got a cabinet for sure and I value

them so much because they will tell me

what I don't want to hear but need to

hear yeah and I love it and they love me

through it but and this is the other

thing your cabinet can go through all of

those comments you know cuz feedback is

great and you get it immediate now your

cabinet will go through and they can

they can share with you the things even

that are negative but that are not


yes yeah so the physics of vulnerability

if you're brave enough often enough

you're gonna fall not you're gonna risk

falling but you're gonna fall in a fall

right what has been one of your toughest

falls oh boy hmm I would say starting

out with this network was a tough fall I

come off the glory and the victory of 25

years of the Oprah show and was trying

to put together the pieces of building a

network without the right pieces I

really was trusting other people's ideas

about how to do it and it wasn't until I

had the good sense to bring in my own

team of people who had been working with

whom I've been working with for you know

the past decade that things start to

actually fall into place for me but that

was a real bitter talk about not reading


I had spent 25 years you know sometimes

you get negative publicity and certainly

had the tabloids and all of that to deal

with but I had never dealt with the what

felt like vitriolic nananananana

look at you you fall in you're not on

top anymore you're not as good as you

think you are

all of that stuff that came in the media

immediately after I entered the Oprah

Show and started the climb to build this

network that was a really really tough

time shame I guess the word shame yeah

would apply because part of it was I I

was thinking wow I can't pull it

together I can't figure out what's going

to work and so part of the shame and

embarrassment was not knowing what I

didn't know and coming from a place when

coming come from a place where I knew it

like that back of my head like doing

that show for 25 years was as easy as

breathing to me right I literally could

close my eyes you can put me on the set

and I could stand there and talk to the

I just really it just was as easy as

breathing so yes I had some serious come

to Jesus talks with myself about it and

part of what I understood was happening

is I know how the world works is the

world is reflecting you back to you so

the the the negative speak the sometimes

vitriolic negatives speak I mean people

have panels of discussion sitting up on

shows talking about you know what had

happened what has happened to the

madhouse mortem ah yes all the

post-mortem of the fall so I saw one

thing in and I can t remember the

headline now because I was so like I've

got to dismiss it but it was like Oprah

doesn't own herself anymore or Oprah

doesn't and shamed me that headline

devastated me shamed me so I said I'm

not going to I'm not going to look at

anything else I'm not going to because I

already know what I'm going through I

already know what it is and it's

happening because you also think all

those things nobody's saying anything to

you that you haven't felt oh my god you

bought into the narrative yeah

and we're going to turn that narrative

around so I had a David Zazzle I've

actually said to me one one day this

narrative changes today we're changing

this narrative it's true so yeah that

was a very difficult that was a that was

a time that required a lot of courage in

it and not just courage to keep going

but courage to like okay what does this

really mean

what is this really trying to say to me

you know shame has to tapes never good

enough and who do you think you are when

you're getting ready to do something

brave in your life what is the shame

gremlin message that you have to be the

most cautious about the one that you

have to say I'm turning this down I live

with who do you think you are my whole

life and not from myself as much as what

was reflected to me because who do you

think you are you're color girl come

from Mississippi what who do you think

you are you sitting up on national

television who do you think you are that

you can have who do you think you are

that you can so um it's the who do you

think you are and what is your response

to that

hmm my response is I used to fear

hearing the term who do you think you

are or you must think you oh must be

pretty full of yourself big for your

britches too big for your britches now I

work at being full I want to be so full

I am overflowing so when you see me

coming it ought to make you proud to

borrow a line from Maya Angelou's

phenomenal women when you see me coming

it ought to make you proud and what you

see is a woman so full I'm overflowing

with enough to share

with everybody else I'm going to own the

fullness without ego without arrogance

but with an amazing sense of gratitude

that I've been born at a time where I am

female on the planet and I have the

great pleasure and freedom to fill

myself up amen amen amen amen to that

we're going to take a really sharp right

turn mm-hmm if you could put anything on

a t-shirt what would it be oh it would

be love as the cure love is the cure

love is a cure you have a soundtrack for

your life tell me one song that would

absolutely have to be on that soundtrack

Amazing Grace

amazing she had a favorite version uh

there is only in my mind one version

went Lea Phipps saying Amazing Grace on

my front lawn in 2005 when I brought all

the legends who had represented what it

meant to be excellent in my childhood so

there was Maya Angelou and Coretta Scott

King and there was Dorothy Height and

there was Roberta Flack there was Diana

Ross and there was Ruby Dee and Cicely

Tyson and wetly Phipps

saying Amazing Grace on my front lawn

favorite room in your house mmm well

first of all I love my house okay I

guess say Oh again is favorite room I

love this question it makes me smile uh

favorite room in my house is my a

bedroom office sitting room that is

where I spend the most time first of all

there's light coming in and usually I'm

working for my desk literally with my

bare feet up on the desk you know that's

what power position Oh

when I was filming the color purple I

had written I still have the journal in

my journal that one day I really hope I

have enough money to have a home with

beautiful things in a beautiful

surrounding that batches my beautiful

spirit I wrote that down in the summer

of 1985 and there is the power of

intention there is a power of intention

but having a home surrounded by

beautiful things with you know that

match my beautiful spirit what's the

best thing about being your age oh gosh

the best thing about being my age is I

have reached a point where I live in the

space of awareness of the time that I

might have remaining you know you have

more time that you have lived

unless there's going to be some big DNA

discovery then you actually have to live

and so it makes the time that you have

right now even more precious and there's

an awareness and you know one of the

great great great things about for me

doing interviews all these years on The

Oprah Show and on own was that I got to

learn from other people's mistakes so I

paid really close attention to the

stories powerful I paid really close

attention and I learned is you know some

people what a lot of shows I think

probably Gale watched more shows than

anybody because you watch would watch

every day and exercise but she not even

she saw every single day yeah I was

there every day and I got to hear

everything and everybody all the

theories and all the stories and all the

layers and layers of dysfunction along

with people's victories and their

triumphs and yeah yeah wisdom wisdom and

I took it in I was a student of it I

wasn't just eight tall

Joe host I was a student I became a

student of life other people's lives and

how to live well by listening to those

stories so I paid I paid real attention

and I'm at a point in my life where I

can literally rejoice in the knowing

space that I hold

there's a sense of confidence that can

only come I think when you know and are

assured that you are living life well

and not from the point of view of having

a lot of things but living life from

this from from the from the center space

when you're when you're living bravely

when you're living bravely because

you're living your truth I mean I really

believe that we make up stories about

other people's fearlessness mm-hmm but

not a there's not enough conversation

about the falls and the hurt and the

climb back on than the shame and your

show was one of the places where people

had this conversation yeah and it was

doing my show that I absolutely learned

for sure for myself through other

people's stories that there really isn't

any such thing as failure and I could

see the thread of you know courage that

was required every time you fell down

now and I could also see I could also

see that failure was just there to

inform you to move in a different

direction it's just there to say hey not

this way over here

not over there wrong place

and once I figured that out it became

easier to be brave ver you know what I

love about you one of many things but

what I really love about you is if I had

to describe you to someone I would say

above all else you're both a teacher and

a student mmm me too I wouldn't have

thought of that but that is excellent


solutely the truth you know that it

which I think I'm a I really actually

believe all good teachers are the best

students like all good writers we are

good readers usually um but it's weird

almost how you straddle that tension

like you have so much to impart but you

are the most most curious people I've

ever met in my life

thank you so you're both a student and a

teacher yeah thank you for being brave

as your life oh thank you really thank

you maybe make me braver and make the

world a better place