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I spent the last week at Brené Brown's Daring Way facilitator training. A colleague lovingly called it "Shame Camp". Lol!

As coaches and helping professionals, it's one thing to be trained on how to deal with vulnerability and shame for our clients. It's a whole other ball game to be in the hot seat, facing my own vulnerability and shame, digging up on my own deep crap, and extract learning from it.

How did it go?

After the training, sooo many people (clients, friends, fellow coaches, everyone really) asked me how it went. OMG, I have 6,000 things I want to share with you!!

But what stood out most is how shame (the feeling of inadequacy, never achieving enough / fast enough, and not feeling enough as a person) affects women entrepreneurs. So here's the story of how I pissed off 99 people and inspired 1 and what that means to business success.

We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.
– Brené Brown

Creative Art Moves Wisdom

During our training, we were given one evening to create an art project that expressed our vulnerability and authenticity in the world. After 10min of thought, I whipped up a music video to celebrate my adventures to 40+ countries and my upcoming 14-country trip this Autumn with my bestfriend.

I was, for only the second time in my life, so proud and self-acknowledging of having achieved a 6-figure business, on my own dime, no loan, no inheritance, no rich parents, no family connections, and no husband/partner to pay the bills while I built my coaching practice.

I showed my music video and do you know what happened? I heard a cocktail mix of:

  1. How old are you? [said with a hint of "What the heck do you know...?" disdain]
  2. Who do you think you are?
  3. Yeah, yeah, good for you, you traveled a lot.
  4. So what.
  5. Why are you flaunting your adventures in our faces?
  6. I wouldn't need to puff up like that.
  7. There's no way I could do what you have done.
  8. How is this project at all related to vulnerability and authenticity?


But what was different this time is that I had already done my self work (through year long Leadership retreats, 6-figure and 7-figure coaching/mentoring programs, reading a book a week, etc. etc. etc.).

I knew right away that their feedback had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with them and their sense of self-worth.



Shame Triggers: Window or Mirror

Brené's work (if you haven't watched her TED talks yet, watch them right now!) taught me that as a woman overachiever, I am either a window or a mirror to others.

People either lean by the window and look out in wonderment, excitement and awe, feeling inspired to dare greatly.

Or... they see a mirror reflecting back all their inadequacies, shortcomings, and "not enough-ness".

Then comparison, scarcity (not enough success to go around in the world) and feelings of shame get triggered in them. All I did was exist and dare greatly.

How this relates to business success? Are you playing small in your business for fear of triggering shame in others? You know what shame feels like and you couldn't bare to "do" that to someone else.

Well, I'm sitting on 15 years of Brené's research and data that pretty much says, it's not your job to decide if you're a window or mirror to others. It's your job to be brave and to be awesome. Period. 


2. Not in the arena? Not interested!

My favorite Brené quote is:

If you are not in the arena also getting your butt kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback.
– Brené Brown

If someone is not openly, courageously living their values, become "you-er than you" each day, and growing in every area of their life, then I'm not interested in what they have to say.

I often get asked how a shy, highly sensitive (can't stand ppl and their noise, smell, emotions, etc.), introverted woman "made it" past 6-figures, with residual income and a location-independence business.

My answer is often: by not giving a shit about what the people outside my "1x1 box" think. 

The 1x1 box is a tiny 1 inch by 1 inch paper with the names of people who unconditionally love and champion me for who I am and for existing, not for what they can get or take from me. It's a short list. Anyone not on that list, no shits given to what they think.

How this relates to business success? Are you holding back in your business because you get paralyzed by what other people may think?

I have a client who is making a comfortable $98,000 / year, but just couldn't get passed that 6-figure mark. We dug, and dug, and dug, and found that it's because she feared that if she made too much, her divorced parents would each want a cut! Fascinating how much power women give to what others might think or do.


When in doubt, go to Marianne

So back to my story. After I showed my music video to people and got all the poo-poo feedback, I found myself sharing, "Even with a 6-mile long overachiever's resume, my dad has never once told me that he is proud of me." And a tear leaked out of my left eye.

The room went silent. My first thought was, "Ah shit! Daddy issues. Damn it! It always comes back to daddy issues. Even after $35,000 in counseling and coaching, damn it!"

I rumbled with these thoughts and when I suddenly looked, most everyone was red-nosed and teary-eyed. I had hit a nerve... for everyone. Even though our stories differ so drastically, deep down, shame is shame. And we all know shame. And that common humanity, in a group of coaches and healing professionals, bonds us all.


I only takes one person

At the end of that "show and tell", one women with beautiful silver hair came up to me and said,

"I haven't cried during this whole training. But your story truly moved me to tears. I feel so whole right now."

And that did it, I burst into tears!

So, was it painful to have your adventure-filled, accomplished life poo-poo'ed on? Not anymore. Between age 13 and 32, that kind of feedback would have crushed my soul.

But now, all I could think about was the window / mirror roles and how it's not my job to decide for others if my being serves as a window or a mirror to them.

So was it worth "pissing" 99 people off just to inspire 1? You bet!! That one person's is this much more whole because of me. <3

And if in doubt, always hold on to Marianne Williamson's words (from her book A Return to Love):

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

With infinite grace, freedom on!

xo, Ella

Ellany LeaAUTHOR • Hi, I'm Ella, founder of Guide to Grace. I invite you to join me for an exquisite freedom at the intersection of: entrepreneurship, enlightenment, and enchantmentFollow