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Well it’s the end of the month and time for me to share
“what I’ve been learning this month”. This
month has been all about Brené Brown for me as I’ve been doing a “Dare to Lead”
for coaches’ programme and I’m about halfway through.
There is lots in this programme (and all of Brené’s books)
that is really interesting and uplifting as well as really deep and quite
difficult. I know that a lot of it will
emerge in my coaching programmes and practices and will be really helpful for
me as well as for my clients.
The aspect that I’d like to share today is a concept that
Brené refers to as The Arena because I think it chimes with what we all
experience within our careers and will particularly chime for people looking
for a new role and striving to create a career they love. In this article, I’d like to try to share the
concept of The Arena in that career context.
“The Arena is a metaphor for a moment or experience when
you share yourself (your ideas, feelings, opinions, experiences, art, etc.)
knowing that you can’t control the outcome or what people think.”
So many of my clients are stepping into their Arenas on a
daily basis at the moment. Sharing
themselves on CVs, on social media and in interviews. You absolutely step into these moments and
experiences with no ability to control the outcome.
All around your arena there are different “Sections” divided
into The Critics and The Support Section.
The Critics Section
These occupy three main areas:
The Cheap Seats
These are reserved for people who hurl advice, judgement and
criticism but who rarely step into the arena themselves. In a career search, these might be people who
call you out on social media, criticise you without your permission or offer
The Season Ticket Holders
These are comparison, scarcity and shame. These might manifest as “they’ve got more
likes than me, they’re better”; “there aren’t enough jobs to go round at the
moment and I’m going to miss out”; “I’m no good and no company will want to
The Box Seats
These are the people who built the arena to benefit
themselves and others who they believe are “like them.” They determine our odds of success in the
arena based on stereotypes, misinformation and fear. They chip away at our confidence
The Support Section
The Arena sounds daunting doesn’t it? No wonder we feel like we need to put our
armour on before entering it. However,
within your Arena, there is also a Support Section.
The Support Section consists of two key areas: empathy and
Empathy comes from others and we all need at least one
person in our lives who treats us with pure empathy.
Self-compassion, of course, comes from ourselves. A coaching question that I frequently use is: “What advice would you give your best friend?” Learning to talk to
yourself, with as much love and absence of judgement as you would talk to your
best friend, is a powerful tool.
I hope that I’ve explained the concept of The Arena in a way
that resonates with you. During the
training programme, we considered some useful questions to help you explore
your own arena. Here are a few:
Finally, I will leave you with the quote from Theodore
Roosevelt that changed Brené Brown’s life:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points
out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the
arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly
… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at
the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Here is a 3-minute video of Brené explaining this quote and her paraphrasing:
“If you’re not in the
arena with me getting your ass kicked then I’m not interested in your feedback.”
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