On Bravery and What it Looks Like

In her TED Talk "Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection," Reshma Saujani discusses how women have been socialized to be perfect and as a result, we are overly cautious. We have a fear of not getting it "right." As she encourages bravery over perfection, a number of questions came up for me.

  • Where am I trying bravery?

  • How does it show up?

  • Have I tried different forms of bravery?

  • Can bravery look like giving up?

  • Can it look like asking for help?

  • Can it look like saying yes and saying no? MXLLS​

​Saujani pushes bravery over perfectionism, but she does not articulate what bravery really looks like. For many women (and men), the first time we think we are doing something brave and for the right reasons, it comes out wrong or is taken the wrong way. We may then be scarred from trying that behavior again. If we are going to choose bravery over perfectionism, we have to understand what bravery looks like.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown discusses how courage is typically associated with heroism but notes that the original Latin definition of courage is, "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Using this definition, being brave or courageous might look more like a willingness to be open about oneself. While bravery can look like waving the banner in times of injustice, it could also look like having a scary but necessary conversation; using a question instead of an argument; or simply listening.

Perhaps bravery is a personal and situational thing. This thought encouraged me to map out where bravery might sit on a scale of risk for the individual and importance to the situation. To me, an act of bravery is high risk to the individual and very important to the situation. Other choices might be using wisdom as a less risky option; using passion as a more risky option; or using passiveness when the situation is not that important or worth the personal risk. An individual can choose how important and risky it is to use an act of bravery versus an act of passion, passiveness, wisdom, [insert your own behavior choices].

If we are coming from a place of experimentation and discovery, we don't have to be afraid of getting something wrong. We can simply try it differently and observe the results. If Saujani is encouraging us to not be afraid of imperfection, than we should become excited by our own imperfections and opportunities for failure.

Question for Comment of Reflection:

What does an act of bravery look like to you?


#TEDTalks #Bravery #Perfectionism

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