I’m In The Arena

The first time I was introduced to Dr. Brene Brown was when I happened to stumble upon a TV interview about three years ago.  I was immediately captivated after hearing the topics  and found myself magnetized to what felt like a private message sent only to me.  Not only is Dr. Brene Brown a Social Worker, but she is a Shame Researcher who has written critically acclaimed and best-selling books about the major tenants of her work.  Brene Brown is also the founder of the Daring Way Initiative in which she offers leadership & development training to incorporate her methods into professional practices.  That interview I stumbled upon was life-changing and set me onto a course I would have never expected would lead me here.

It started with the first book I read titled, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.”  It was the first book I had ever read where I honestly couldn’t put it down anymore than I could resist highlighting just about every word, phrase, page and what eventually turned into the entire book.  Her literature and research was the first of its kind to bring light to very dark subjects that no one seemed to talk much about.


While I found many people around me repulsed by these topics, I found them invitational.  It was the first time I identified with how many people would find these topics abhorrent without recognizing how it sabotaged our ability to connect with one another.  It wasn’t long before I introduced Brene Brown to family, friends and even made one of her books a mandatory read for one of my human services classes. The first semester I assigned, “Daring Greatly,” it was electrifying.  It didn’t take long before students validated how powerful these three words were in their own lives and their prospective fields.

“Daring Greatly” is all about what Dr. Brene Brown refers to as “entering the arena”.  She references the reputable and influential speech Teddy Roosevelt made in 1910:


Every time this speech makes its way back to me, I can’t help but evaluate the arena of my own life, marriage, motherhood, family, friends, falls and triumphs. I begin to think about the hundreds of children, families and students I have had the honor of working beside.  I remember the countless number of people who got bruised because of the arena in their lives and the number of people thrown in without consent.  I couldn’t help but think about the co-workers I worked with who expected everyone to enter the arena without ever having the courage to know what it felt like themselves.

I think about the private and public outreach from people sharing their shameful, imperfect and vulnerable stories about their own arenas.  I think about the questions you asked, the questions I try to answer and the unanswered questions of my own.  I think about the many times I’ve been hesitant to step in and what happened when I did.  I believe we’re all deciding whether or not we want to enter the arena of our own lives.

We’re trying to decide how we want to do it just as we’re trying to decide if it’s safe.  We’re wondering if the people in our lives will sit as spectators watching us fail or if they will join in to help reassure us that whatever the outcome; it is shared.  We’re wondering what people will see once we make our way over the rope and what will happen when we are “marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

The arena is a perfect metaphor for our lives.  Some of us sit on the outside and some of us dare to go in.  Some of us would rather sit on the outside and watch because it’s safer to judge others than it is to be in the ring.  There is one quote by Dr. Brene Brown that haunts me from time to time.  I mean,



I want to show up and know I stood for something rather than nothing.  I want to show up and know I tried than never trying at all.  I want to be magnetized to feelings that are real instead of hiding behind what is fake.  That whole, “Don’t be afraid to get your ass kicked a little bit,” thing?  Yeah, I’m still working on that part.

I get my ass kicked quite a bit and sometimes the hits are from directions and people I’d least expect it from.  For now I am proposing to you what I am proposing to myself on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.  Whenever and however you decide to show up, know that I’m trusting we can show up together. The arena can be a scary, unpredictable and unforgiving place at times, but it’s also where our invitation to stand Resurrected Together begins.  As the great Teddy Roosevelt said,

“Who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Even if going in the ring causes me to get my “ass kicked” or fail, I am believing I would have done so while daring greatly.

I owe this path of my journey to Brene Brown.  She will never know the impact her work continues to have in breathing life into feelings I once believed were only experienced by me and for giving me the confidence to enter my own arena with you.

Check out http://www.brenebrown.com to learn more about going into the arena.

In Love & Truth,

2 thoughts on “I’m In The Arena

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