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When Thought Leaders Give Bad Advice. . .

Brené Brown is a popular thought-leader with a devoted following. I have only scant familiarity with her work and don’t have an opinion on the few things of hers that I’ve read or heard in the past.

However, recently I was sitting in a meeting where the presenter was using PowerPoint slides. The final slide quoted Ms. Brown to the effect that “True inclusion does not require you to change who you are, but to be who you are.”

First off, that’s not what inclusion is about, but I will overlook that.

What I am troubled by is the notion of not changing who you are, but simply accepting who you are, as you are.

Really? What if you’re immature? What if you’re a narcissist? What if you are evil? What if you are immoral?

Would Brené Brown truly counsel such undesirables to “be immoral,” to “be evil,” to “be narcissistic” since that is what the person currently is? Do we really want sociopaths to remain what they are?

I would suggest that rather than maintain what we are, we instead think in terms of our potential. That presupposes we have not yet fully realized our potential. That means that our current state is lacking. And that means that we ought not to settle for the deficiencies that currently plague us. We should, instead, demand more of ourselves, striving for greater states of being.

I presume Brené Brown is, by and large, a decent human being with some measure of wisdom. But this bit of counsel was disappointing.

No follower of Ms. Brown (or any thought-leader, for that matter) should blindly embrace everything they hear. Critical thinking and good judgment suggests otherwise.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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