I’ve been halfway through a book called ‘Rising Strong’ by Brene Brown since the beginning of the year. It’s one of those books where you read a bit and then you put it down and think about it for a while.
The book (in so far as I’ve read) can be summed up in a quote by Brene Brown “owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do”.
Well… I have yet to pick it up again but in my defence, there is a lot to take in and it’s hard to be self-reflective. Even if you want to become better… less angry, less bitter, more joyful…
And then I caught up with a friend.
This amazing person has walked through the valley. For most of her life, she lived there.
After living on the street and fighting for survival, Sarah* now works with others who are trying to get off the street which has presented her with two personal challenges: dealing with workplace politics and overcoming personal whakama [shame] in order to be able to help others.
To be able to be genuine in the way you help others, you must first be authentic about who you are. That includes all your failures or, as Brene Brown calls them, your ‘face down’ moments. But by living in that failure and being aware of what is happening, you can learn your biggest life lessons.
Just before our chat, Sarah had had one of these moments. Not so much in the form of a new failure but in her reflection of past failures and in her more recent dealings with etiquette. Incidents that weighed heavily on self-worth. That held her back and stopped her from reaching her potential and having the impact that she could have on the lives of others.
I was captivated while Sarah explained her changed perspective – that actually, everyone has issues and no one is nailing it.
There is nothing that lights up a person like enlightenment. A new understanding or world view had opened up and it was empowering. In recognising that we are all engaged in a battle and that even the most refined air of confidence can be a mask, Sarah found permission to forgive her own perceived failures.
The knock on effect of which has been a renewed efficacy in her role at VisionWest and a deeper compassion for those that she works with. Overcoming the whakama that she has been confronted with in her role allows her to be more honest and authentic in her support of others and also as an advocate for them.
Her joy was palpable.
Within her, there is a movement underway. One of authentic living. Sarah has boarded the train and she is on a mission.
This is what transformation looks like.
Written by Melita Foster, Philanthropy Coordinator at VisionWest
* Names have been changed