Part V: “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown

Merkle’s unofficial book club presents: 5 books to improve yourself - and your business - during Corona

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” (Simon Sinek) Most people at Namics (including me), started to work here because they felt inspired by their potential future colleagues during the recruitment process. I realized this once more when, very naturally, an unofficial Namics book club started to form around a year ago. We would exchange books that we had read and loved, that made us wonder or grow or want to talk about with colleagues.

For most of us, the Corona crisis comes with some extra time: no more commuting to work, for some less or even no work at all; no big trips or activities are possible. On the other hand, there is plenty to worry about, when given time with oneself alone. Insecurities about your own health and that of loved ones, but also financial issues are faced by most of us.

I’d like to encourage you to worry less and read more. These 5 book recommendations will not only give you a way to fill your time, but also motivate and possibly inspire you! Their lessons are suited for both personal growth or for business  improvement - independent of your role, status, or sector. To get you started, I will share my own experience from both personal and professional perspectives. Let’s go!

“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown

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If you haven’t seen Brené Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability yet, you should probably head right over to youtube and do so now. Don’t take it just from me, believe the 12 million viewers around the globe who have put it on the most watched list of TED talks for the past nine years. I guess that’s what you get for talking about something that everybody experiences, but nobody is willing to admit to or wanting to engage with. Hiding anonymously behind your screen while watching somebody else being vulnerable is something extremely innate to our current digital culture. But the reason why Brown struck a nerve with her talk is the following: vulnerability is not only a feeling that makes us uncomfortable, it is also the birthplace of love, belonging and joy. The notion of “putting yourself out there”, which is usually followed by more terrifying feelings such as overwhelming joy or tremendous misery. It is the fear of the latter that keeps us from experiencing and allowing vulnerability. Brown encourages us to get over that fear. The book’s title “Daring Greatly” is derived from a Roosevelt speech from 1910 which deeply inspired her. The relevant part reads: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, [...] and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

Now before you turn around thinking “yeah, yeah, this emotional stuff is all great, but how is that relevant to my business?!” - bear with me. We’ll get there.

How my personal experience is connected to reading “Daring greatly”

In total, I have spent about six years of my life living abroad, on four continents and in various countries. When I talk about these phases of my life, I often get asked “wow, how did you come up with the courage to do all that?”. The simple answer is: going away was never the “daring greatly” part for me. 

When I left for Portugal in 2013, it was a bit of an experiment. Much like many people go to India to “find themselves”, I went to Portugal to clear my head and find a way forward for my life. I wasn’t planning on falling in love with the country and its culture so much that I wanted to stay for longer. My motivation to stay drove me to three different career paths that I experimented with, a total of nine house moves during three years and various very depressing hours at the citizen office, trying to get all the paperwork done. But it was not until I asked my parents to ship my books that I had left with them, that I realized the hard truth. I vividly remember opening the first book box in my flat in Lisbon, holding in my hands one of my favourite books from my teenage years - and instantly breaking down to the floor, sobbing. You see for me, my books are my story, my formative years were spent with them, and having them around me is a symbol of home and groundedness. It was in the moment I unpacked the boxes that I understood my decision to move my whole life to Portugal might actually have been the wrong choice. Careerwise I was selling myself at less than fair value and saw no opportunities to develop my potential. My social life was far from what I aspired it to be, the friendships I had not close to what I thought I needed in terms of depth, and I spoke to my parents only rarely on the phone. It took me another couple of months to fully surrender to the reality of my dream not working out. Luckily, my family embraced me without holding back, and my vulnerability was greeted with understanding, patience and support (also because everyone was glad for me to come back and potentially play a bigger role in their lives again). So when people ask me about my adventures abroad, little do they know that the greatest thing I ever dared was actually coming back. But I am so glad I did. I may not have one all the fights in this new arena, but the move surely has brought me a bigger sense of love (closeness to family), joy (working within a progressive and challenging environment at Namics) and belonging (being appreciated in both private and professional settings). 

How your business can improve from you reading “Daring greatly”

The whole economy is affected by the Corona pandemic. While there will surely emerge some “winners” out of this crisis, for now we are all in the same boat. Rarely has the need for innovation been so widespread as it is now. And you know what Brown’s research showed? It revealed that, at the root of innovation lies vulnerability. Because in order to innovate, creative ideas that change the status quo need to emerge. Changing the status quo means having the courage to do so. And being courageous means accepting the possibility of failure, which is - you guessed it - downright vulnerability. Being forced to close facilities, factories and offices puts everyone on the spot: how capable are you to function via digital channels only? How far has your work environment come within the digital transformation? I personally am most curious to see how different areas of our society will have to reset the status quo over this crisis. Several cultural and economical activities have had close to no connection (funny word choice, Julia, *pat on the back*) with the digital - yet now we are forced to rethink those gaps. Concerts and yoga lessons are streamed online. Board games can be played on the phone with friends. There’s even apps on which you can “drink beer” with others. While it is of course questionable whether these digital evolutions will be able to replace human-to-human interaction, it surely is an interesting aspect to observe during this time. Big corporations as well as small businesses are now, more than ever, put to the test in terms of their digital architecture and functionality. With most people being forced to work from home, they need to ask themselves: is there a loss in efficiency due to connection problems, missing infrastructure and unautomated processes? How can they, how can you as an individual change and mitigate that? If your business has had close to no contact with digital marketing or selling channels, it can be a scary thought to start with it now. It can even seem impossible. And you could be risking the investment not paying off for a while. 

We at Namics are currently exploring various pathways to navigate the Corona crisis together with our clients. With one, we are developing a 3-phase virtual event concept through a tool and platform to enable events or conferences. Will it work, will people come and like the alternative to the real events? We don’t know yet. With another one, we created the idea of an online content-hub for journalists with all of the company’s communication activities around the current situation, including a social wall to integrate a dialogue with customers. Will the investment be worth it? We hope so, but we don’t know. For most of us, there is a lot of room to innovate, which only now comes to light. If we want to come out of this sh*tshow not defeated and broken, but with our head held up high because we jumped into the arena and actually risked to be unsuccessful, we need to gear up all of our courage.  

Chances are, you and your business are vulnerable right now. Use that. Dare greatly. And if you need a little help setting your business up for greatness within the digital transformation, contact us here at Namics. We’re happy to be vulnerable and courageous with you.