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Doctor! Doctor! - Vulnerability at WorkHuman Live

Humareso Blog Posts-19-Wedding Bell Blues (1)

I had the pleasure of attending WorkHuman Live, once again, this past week. One of the things I love about this conference is its ability to drive diverse kinds of workplace conversations amongst attendees. We are offered opportunities to connect and to discuss what we’ve been hearing from the content delivered. We share ideas and dream about what could be in our organizations. We find those like-minded individuals who will help encourage us and keep us accountable. It is an incredibly special time.

What struck me most this year might be surprising, but it was the vulnerability of Brene Brown. Brene has been a speaker at this conference before, and did not disappoint, but this time, she was setup with a conversational opportunity. She sat comfortably in a chair, joined by Eric Moseley, CEO, where questions were asked about HR, AI and the human response. As expected, Brene had some research to offer. It was helpful.

But what wound up happening was that Brene started to share personal perspectives. She shared about her own journey and where she finds herself today. Brene owned how uncomfortable she is at times with the attention she’s been given. She vulnerably shared that this last year was one of the most difficult for her in relationship with her family, her work and even, herself. At one point, Brene said, “I sit back and wonder sometimes, ‘What if I had not done the Netflix special?’ Would things be better?” Wow. What a statement.

Brene was a person at that moment. She was not a world-famous researcher who has more than a handful best-selling books and who sits to chat with Oprah. She was raw and unafraid of her vulnerabilities. The pain she has been experiencing was palpable. She was honest in a fresh way. With all that she has achieved, there are consequences to that success that has challenged her view of self and of those relationships around her.

The reminder that the view we have of someone in the public eye is not as complete as we’d like to believe it is. As humans, we are wired to label and categorize. We might look at someone like Brene and apply various labels regarding success, public speaking, writing and celebrity to her. And here she sat, on a stage in front of about 2500 people as alone as you could imagine. That label would not have been one that I would have used for her prior to WorkHuman Live 2024.

Compassionate consideration that we do not know what is going on in each person’s life is not merely a good HR skill to possess, but it’s a right consideration for all people to have. I don’t know what is really going on in your life, nor do you know all that is going on in mine. What you think you know about anyone’s past or future is based on what you see or what you have heard, even from the person directly. No person shares everything with another. We hold back. That truth should influence the labeling and presuppositions you have swirling in your head.

Brene reminded us all that she is a researcher. She, also, reminded us that she is an absolute introvert. Self-awareness had come front and center for Brene. She realized that she had been operating outside of who she really is. Perhaps she believed her own press a little too much. Perhaps she applied the labels that others gave her as truth. Regardless of the reason, Brene gave us a glimpse into a self-identification reckoning.

WorkHuman Live gave me the chance to consider both the inward view of self as well as the actualized portrayal of self to the world. Am I at odds? And further, the reminder that I don’t know everything going on with people, even the people that I am most closely connected to. Do I leave room for vulnerability? I can only own my reactions and responses. Time for a checkup on that.



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