At least a few times a week I add another book recommendation to my book list. The list is longer than I’ll ever be able to process, even reading two hours daily. I’m either a slow reader or there are lots of great books out there. It’s probably both.
I was checking out Brené Brown’s blog and was intrigued by her latest one about Dr. Pippa Grange’s book Fear Less. No, I haven’t read it yet (but I did reserve it from the library). Brown lists three takeaways, which I’d like to dig into here.
Takeaway 1: Performance
Brown: “Instead of performing at the thing in front of us — our job, our life, our role as a parent — we humans have become performative. That was a hard swallow for me. Thinking about how in our ever-commoditized, ever-on lives, each and every moment of our days has been turned into an opportunity to ‘perform.’ So much so that we don’t even know anymore how to show up with our masks off, as our authentic selves.”
Arno: Performance has been an intriguing topic for me lately. As I get older, I get less interested in performing. I get more interested in being. I think I’ve struggled my whole life trying to be somebody. My ego has gotten the best of me over the years. That ego is like a mask that covers up my authentic self. I’m really interested in being authentic, in showing up for myself and others without the ego mask. What about you? Is your life focus “performative?”
Takeaway 2: Deeper
Brown: “Win deep, not shallow. Grange describes ‘winning shallow’ as a win that comes when we’re ‘winning to avoid not being good enough, winning to beat the other guy, winning to be seen as good enough.’ It’s winning born of comparison and scarcity and self-doubt — and it’s not tied to our worth. ‘Winning deep,’ on the other hand, is ‘where you actually can feel the richness of your journey, you are attached to the joy and the struggle, you are attached to the mess, and it is generally done for reasons outside of yourself and the fulfillment of our egoic needs. It is done more from a soul level — it’s done because we can and because there’s a wild desire in it.’”
Arno: Here we can see how this point builds on the first one. Ego compares and ties its identity to outcomes. It’s performance based. We have to perform to keep up with our ego’s needs to feel validated, to feel like we’re good enough, worthwhile. I think we need to make worthiness a non-issue. Totally separate our worth from performance, outcomes, or anything else. I like to say “I exist, therefore I am.” In other words, I exist because I was born into this world. My worth is validated simply because I exist. Therefore, I don’t have to perform to continually prove it to myself and others. Do you have to prove your worth to yourself and others every day?
Takeaway 3: Outcomes
Brown: “‘If you can’t surrender, you can’t allow mystery, and if you can’t allow any mystery, you can’t open the door to soul.’ One of the recurring points in Dr. Grange’s work is that results are just an outcome — but one you can’t really control. Sure, there’s loads you can do on the way up, as Dr. Grange says, but then you have to let go. And that’s hard to do, especially when you’ve tied your self-worth to outcome.”
Arno: There are things we can control as we work toward outcomes. Foundationally, we can only control our attention, how we choose to focus it. If we can surrender to that foundational tenet, then we can relax into the mystery of life. We allow our attention to go deeper into our experience, to feel how it’s impacting us and those around us. That’s an open door I want to walk through. How about you? Do you believe you can control anything other than how you choose to focus your attention?
Soul and Love
Brown: “I’ll leave you with this final thought from Fear Less, which has really stuck with me: “It is scary to talk about soul or love in our hyper-rational, data-driven world, but I am convinced these are the missing pieces in our potential. And in fighting fear, this is the only genuine way to talk about change and becoming fearless.”
Arno: We are caught in a hamster wheel of busyness. Technology has just made the wheel turn faster. I think it’s time for us to push back against that. I see a lot of people doing this. They’re fed up with social media, work that blends into every aspect of their personal lives, and an inability to just sit and do nothing. We need to look around us to see, hear, and feel the wonder of the day. I see a beautiful blue sky right now, hear traffic and wind sounds, feel the sun’s warmth on my skin. Even as I write this, I’m not rushing through it. I’m just speaking from the silence within me and putting words to it. What about you? Are you tired of the hamster wheel? Are you ready to push back against it?
Practice tip: Deep Performance
Performance does point to outcomes you’re continually working towards that tend to keep you on the surface of experience. You rush from one performance to another, from performing as a co-worker, to a parent, to a climber. Yet, you can perform and go deeper.
The key is to slow down. You slow down to go faster. How do you like that idea? Slowing down simply means you don’t let your attention speed ahead of the experience you’re having. You allow it to go deeper into what you’re doing. Notice when your attention goes to the next task on your “to do” list while you’re still doing the current task. Then go deeper by redirecting your attention to the current task and finding the subtleties there. You’ll find some richness there.