Hello, I hope September has started off well for you and you are feeling inspired to leap into new projects and opportunities that come your way. I am just back from a last-minute holiday to Chania in Crete (hence the photo above) it is a beautiful Venetian city where the mantra is 'how can we help you have a wonderful time?' The local people are incredibly generous and take pride in ensuring that visitors enjoy themselves. Their positive attitude is particularly striking when you consider the dire economic situation Greece is currently experiencing and yet its citizens are admirably positive and hopeful.
I was reflecting on their resilience as I was reading academic-social worker Brené Brown's latest book 'Rising Strong', about bouncing back from failure or disappointment. I am particularly inspired by Brené's writing because it blends personal story and experience with grounded theory research. Through her research with hundreds of interviewees she has uncovered a process to develop strength and wisdom from personal failures, hurts or mistakes, rather than rejecting or disowning that aspect of our journey. Needless to say I have had my own fair share of setbacks and while we all experience them, sometimes they can take longer for us to recover from than we'd like. Brené's research doesn't claim to be a quick fix process but what it does do is provide important insights into how we can review the stories we tell ourselves, examine their truth and find alternative and affirming responses.
Three Key Steps:
Participants in her research have identified the following three steps necessary to rise with strength from a setback: 1. Walk into our story and become curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave. 2. Own our stories by asking ourselves what are we making up and what is true, what needs to change in our thinking and actions if we want to live more wholehearted lives. 3. Write a new ending to our stories based on what we have learned in step 2. and use this new story to change how we engage with the world and to transform the way we live, love and lead.
Pixar, The Creative Process & Doubts:
The book shares a number of interesting examples of this process but one that stood out for me was a meeting Brené had with producers, writers, animators and directors at Pixar films to discuss her work and the art of storytelling. The team talked about the element of 'doubt' in the creative process and their frustration that no matter how experienced they are or how successful they have been, doubt and uncertainty always rear their heads in the middle of the creative process. It is often just as you think you're work is rubbish that you hit gold!
For example in the standard Three-Act structure of a story Acts 1 and 3 of each new film are the parts of the story that focus on the protagonist's call to adventure (Act 1) and the lessons learned by the protagonist (Act 3). It is Act 2, the messy bit in the middle, when the protagonist tries to find an easy way to solve their problem but realises they are going to have to overcome a deep fear and take a courageous action, that is the difficult part. This is where the protagonist always hits their lowest point.
Stage 2: The Delta
However, the protagonist cannot solve her problem or reach her ultimate goal without going through Stage 2. In her book, Brené describes Stage 2 as 'the delta'. Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet and is also a mathematical symbol for 'difference'. A capital delta is a triangle (the three sides of the triangel represent emotion, thought, and behaviour, in this process). The delta or Stage 2 is the place where something different needs to happen, where we discover our key learnings and make a change. In the 'Rising Strong' process it is where we explore the difference between what we make up about our experiences and the truth we discover by diving deeply into them and uncovering their real meaning and wisdom for our lives. A process of free-writing through this journey is recommended by Brené. Ultimately, by being courageous and stepping into any arena we risk failure, but it is our courage, strength and determination that define us, not our setbacks and disappointments.
Designing Inspiring Woman:
I was excited when I read this story as it so accurately reflects the design and structure of the Inspiring Woman Programme which was created to lead each participant through their own Three-Act Story.
Module 1. The Authentic Womanworkshop sets the scene by exploring how each woman sees herself and how others see her by exploring her gifts, talents and skills and fully acknowledging and owning them. This workshop is deeply reflective, reconnecting and uplifting. Module 2.The Courageous Woman workshop is about being heard and each woman exploring her own story. Where she is right now and how she would like to develop her voice and presence in the world. This is both a challenging and exhilarating workshop which aims to unleash each woman's unique voice and articulate her deepest desires. Module 3. The Inspiring Woman workshop is about the 'catharsis' meaning to work through what has been learned from the journey. This workshop focuses on each woman's unique contribution and way of being in the world and how she wants to show up and make a difference. It supports her to articulate her vision, clarify her goals and develop an action plan to achieve key milestones. In 'The Poetics' by Aristotle catharsis was the last of the seven elements of drama.
What I find so helpful about Brené's work is that she breaks down the 'Rising Strong' process clearly and backs it up with hard evidence and data. She doesn't claim to be any sort of guru just another human being striving to make her life and the lives of others as meaningful and happy as possible. If you are interested in developing resilience or deepening your relationship with your own knowledge and wisdom about your setbacks or disappointments I would highly recommend this book. Brené is a woman who loves supporting other women and yet another example of that wonderful uplifting, positive attitude I came across on Crete.
If you would like to find out more about the Inspiring Woman Programme click here