Brené Brown at SXSW 2019: Inspiration for painful times

Brené Brown at SXSW 2019 Inspiration for painful times

Supporting the communities we care about is fulfilling work. But in times of uncertainty and turmoil, staying positive and engaged can be especially challenging.

Knowing this, the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) programmers set Brené Brown as the SXSW 2019 Opening Speaker to give attendees the inspiration needed for the ongoing work of easing pain in communities world-wide.

Brown, research professor at the University of Houston and bestselling author (“Daring Greatly,” “Braving the Wilderness,” “Dare to Lead”…),  acknowledged that with our culture’s increased polarization there is a daily pressure to stay quiet to try to just get along.

But even during these times of online anger, provocative headlines and frequent shaming there is a way to show up, stay helpful and have a sense of belonging and connection. The results of Brown’s research offer these four practices:

Practice One: People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move in.

Brown elaborated: “When I can see part of my story in your eyes, that is when we connect.”

Practice Two: Speak Truth to Bulls**t. Be Civil.

True belonging and connection requires speaking up and staying in your integrity.

Practice Three: Hold Hands with Strangers.

To ease pain, stand with people so they know they are not alone.

Practice Four: Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

Keep your integrity; listen to your heart. Be yourself.

Brown ended by bringing these practices to life through the power of music in the Austin Convention Center’s filled-to-capacity Ballroom D. Led by Brown, a room full of hundreds of strangers was immediately uplifted and connected by gently singing the lyrics to Townes Van Zandt’s “If I needed you.”

If I needed you, would you come to me?
Would you come to me, and ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you;
I’d swim the seas for to ease your pain.

PHOTO: Brené Brown speaks at SXSW 2019
VIDEO: Brown leads SXSW attendees in singing Townes Van Zandt’s “If I needed you.”
Credits: Images: S. Erler;
Songwriter: Townes van Zandt; If I Needed You lyrics © Katie Belle Music

About Susannah Erler 7 Articles
Susannah Erler is Interim Director of the Texas Grants Resource Center and Director of Greater Good Strategies – Nonprofit Consulting.

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