Taking off the armour: insights from the Dare to Lead™ program
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Wearing armour protects from harm, but it also prevents the good stuff from getting in, or out. Leading an authentic life requires showing up without armour: vulnerable and brave.
I have recently had the privilege to complete training to become a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. The Dare to Lead™ program is based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. My time in San Antonio, Texas, with Brené and the DTL team was life-changing, and also fun!
Engaging with Brené Brown’s work follows on from my work with Logotherapy. Logotherapy is based on the work of the late Dr Viktor Frankl, who emphasized that humans are meaning-oriented and find healing through finding meaning.
One of the profound benefits of finding meaning is a sense of connection: with our essence, with others, with purpose, and for some, with a higher consciousness. This experience of connecting with something, or someone, beyond ourselves is also a way we can discover meaning.
Brené’s work on shame and vulnerability led her to conclude that, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.” It is truly satisfying for me that two of my favourite authors agree that connection is fundamentally meaningful.
For most of my life, role models have left me with the impression that vulnerability is weakness. The logic is therefore that it is sensible to ‘armour-up’ emotionally as we make our way in the world. I know this is true for most other people, too. But Brené’s work clearly shows that being vulnerable requires courage and is the very opposite of weakness. Further, as we learn the skills of how to be genuinely vulnerable we reconnect with our true selves, which Viktor Frankl would have called our human spirit (essence).
Like Frankl, Brené has shown that living from our core values (rather than society’s values) is one of the key ways to live authentically.
An old adage states that we teach what we need to learn. In order to present the DTL work authentically I am required to do the same inner work expected of participants. And not just once, but on an ongoing basis. So as I present the program I am learning to take off my armour and discover the power of engaging with the world openly and vulnerably.
When I have the courage to allow more of my true self to be seen I benefit those around me with what it is I am uniquely equipped to give. And from this vulnerable place I can be open to recognizing and receiving their gifts.
When I first engaged with Logotherapy one of the concepts we explored moved me to tears: accepting and celebrating our uniqueness. I found deep healing in embracing myself without judgment and discovered that my connections with others deepened, too, as I increasingly celebrated their uniqueness. The DTL work is asking me to step even more fully into my uniqueness, taking it to the next level by requiring me to share my values and experiences with participants.
I am being asked to be brave even though I feel afraid to be ‘seen’.
My medical training equipped me with many kinds of armour. Wearing it was sometimes necessary and useful, but often it was a barrier between me and my patients and colleagues. It became easier to simply keep the armour on, whether or not I was at work. Over the last few years I have discovered the joy and freedom of engaging with patients from a more vulnerable place. Many of the most meaningful consultations were when we discussed non-medical concerns; not as doctor and patient, but as human beings willing to be vulnerable with each other. The DTL program has given words to my experiences, and provided tools for how to live in a lighter way, more fully expressing myself.
And so the Dare to Lead™ program is providing me with a great challenge and gift: to live more and more authentically from a non-armoured, vulnerable place.
It is my hope that everyone who engages with the program discovers how ‘wholehearted’ living can be when we are brave enough to take off the armour and embrace each other, heart to heart.