In Brene Brown’s recent book Dare to Lead she posits that “It’s not fear that’s holding you back, it’s armor.” Let’s take a closer look at our fears and our armor and see if we can unpack our fear and pack up our armor.
Can you Lose the Fear? Brene Brown’s research shows that even the most successful people have fear. There’s some quote about “Successful people have fear but they do it anyway.” I’m gonna call bullshit on that for the simple reason that you might not know you have fear. Fear seeps in, in sneaky little ways. Unsuccessful people can be really brave, fearless, brazen even. So what’s different? Did you ever encounter an outspoken person, someone who wasn’t afraid to speak their mind, and repelled every one around them? Why is that? Maybe it was armor.
Armor blocks Connection. After a tough day last week, I called a friend and demanded my armor back. Emotional armor makes it much easier to withstand criticism and bypass fear. Unfortunately, it also stops the good stuff from coming in, and the good stuff is what success is really about. If people see you as so fearless, and so brave that they can’t relate to you, well what kind of success is that?
A year ago I had never heard the term “armor” used in this way. It’s one of those things, once are enlightened to the existence of emotional armor, you can never go back and unsee it. You’ll see your own, and you’ll start to see everyone else’s too. People’s prickliness becomes a very human matter of them trying to protect themselves.
You can hold both - fear and pain. What did I do after my tough day last week? The one that made me go reaching for my armor? I challenged myself to feel the pain, admit openly to the pain, WHILE moving forward. It’s a fallacy that feelings are sequential; first denial, then pain, then you move forward. You can feel the hurt AND move forward, simultaneously. The key is in letting go of the baggage that accompanies the hurt.
Brain Twist. Where is your armor blocking you? Find someone at work that you have a hard time connecting with. Have you created armor to protect yourself from being hurt by them? Some examples; making sure they know you’re doing a good job, hiding your doubts, always making things perfect. I dare you to peel back your armor and be honest with this person about your doubts. Might they use it against you? They might, but wouldn’t you rather them use something against you that you already acknowledged than blindside you with it?