Skip to content

Listen to the episode

On this episode of Dare to Lead

Barrett is back to talk more about trust and how we approach it at our company. We call it BRAVING trust — BRAVING is the acronym we use for the seven attributes of trust. And in Part 2 of this two-part series, we really dig into the core elements of BRAVING: boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, nonjudgment, and generosity. We talk frankly about awareness, experiences, and hacks that we have found to be helpful in cultivating trust, and we get really personal about how all of these BRAVING elements show up in our own lives and leadership.

About the guest

Barrett Guillen headshot

Barrett Guillen

Barrett Guillen is Chief of Staff for Brené Brown Education and Research Group. With her team, Barrett supports both Brené and the organization by helping to prioritize competing demands, managing relationships, and building connective tissue and strategy across all business initiatives. Barrett holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Kinesiology from the University of Houston. After more than a decade in education in the Texas Panhandle, Barrett and her family made the move back to the Houston area to join the BBEARG team in making the world a braver place. Having the opportunity to work with her sisters everyday has been one of the great joys of her life. Outside the office, you can find Barrett spending time with her family (immediate and extended), enjoying her daughter’s games, eating her husband’s famous burgers, floating in the water (any water!), or on the pickle ball court.

Show notes

Dare to Lead _ Brené Brown MSW

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

The ultimate playbook for developing brave leaders and courageous cultures. Daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100% teachable. It’s learning and practice that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with our whole hearts.


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Dare to Lead. Barrett, welcome back.

Barrett Guillen: Hi.

BB: Hey.

BG: Ho. [laughter]

BB: Okay, this is the second part of our Trust episodes one and two, and we have talked about the marble jar, we’ve kind of done an intro on the BRAVING acronym around trust, and this episode we’re going to really dig into boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, non-judgment and generosity. You ready?

BG: I’m ready.

BB: Okay.


BB: I do too. It’s such a freaking great tool.

BG: It really is.

BB: Alright, you want to just jump in?

BG: Let’s jump in.

BB: Okay, so we told everyone in the last episode that if you want to listen to this with us and kind of have something in front of you, you can either have a copy of Dare to Lead or you can download a BRAVING inventory PDF from the episode page from our first episode or just from the Brené Brown Dare to Lead hub. And if you’ve never been to the Dare to Lead hub, it’s great, it’s got all kinds of exercises and tools, downloads, quote cards, it’s got it all. So hopefully you’ve got your BRAVING inventory in front of you, but I know a lot of you like listen while you’re running and walking and commuting and driving, so you don’t have to have it in front of you, we’ll go through it, but just know it’s there if you’d like it.

BB: Okay, so in part one, we did a kind of mini-introduction. Let’s go through the letters one more time. So this is based on our research, instead of talking about the big overwhelming construct of trust, we break it down into seven elements or attributes of trust that are more behavioral, observable, that we can really get granular with each other, we can think about what are my strengths, what are my opportunities for growth, what’s working between us, what’s not working between us? So we’ve got, again, the acronym is BRAVING, boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, non-judgment, and generosity. Let’s start with boundaries. So you set, hold, respect, boundaries, you make it clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why. So tell me about your experience when you’re using the inventory with a team member, or you’re talking to the team at large, because we use it both ways. What about this is helpful, what gets thorny?

BG: Yeah, so I think for me, when I’m asked, when I’m doing this with you, I mean, you’re my leader, so when I’m doing this with you, I think definitely some strengths, I’m getting better and better at boundaries and asking what’s okay and what’s not okay. I think one of the things that I do with my team when I do it is we say boundaries, but then we really break it down into what’s okay and what’s not okay? What’s okay, what’s not okay? And I think when we sit down and we do this together, it’s very much about where can we grow and what are we really doing well? And so I would say for me, I’m getting better and better at setting boundaries. It’s harder for me to hold them, but I can set them pretty well.

BB: So I love that you’re going back to what’s okay and what’s not okay, because there are two definitions of boundaries that have just changed my life. I mean really, it’s not an exaggeration. So the first is Kelly Rae Roberts, who is a long-time friend of mine, an oncological social worker turned kind of self-taught painter creative, now has a huge thriving business around her art, at some point, maybe 10 years ago when she was teaching a lot of art classes and her business was just starting to grow exponentially globally, she noticed a lot of people were copying her art almost verbatim and selling it commercially, and so she wrote this blog post as only an artist with a social worker background would.


BG: Oh yes.

BB: That said, “Hey everyone, this is what I’m seeing, let me be very explicit about what’s okay and what’s not okay.” And she just did these two columns, like, “Here’s what’s okay, you can be inspired by my art, you can copy my art verbatim, you can put that in your house, you can’t copy my art verbatim and then sell it or do anything commercial with it. That’s a copyright infringement.” She was just so explicit, and it was so beautifully done. And I’ll tell you what’s powerful about that, what’s powerful about the way that Kelly Rae set that up is that so often we think being boundaried means being kind of an asshole that lives inside of a castle with a drawbridge and a moat, and crocodiles in the water and cannons loaded, and it’s having a walled off-heart. But it’s not. Being boundaried is not just about being explicit about what’s not okay, it’s about being explicit about what is okay.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who work with us, where I’ve had to say, “Listen, it is 100% okay that you were pissed off in that meeting. I was pissed off. It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to roll your eyes and slam your laptop shut.”

BG: Yes.

BB: So you can be angry, we’ve got to figure out another way to express it, because it shut down the meeting and we can’t show up like that with other people. It’s okay, I mean, this is a huge one, and this is kind of a freaking researcher heal thyself, it’s okay to have to take your mom to the doctor, it’s okay to have to leave work to take care of a kid, it’s okay to have a life, it’s not okay to be dishonest about it or not ask us or tell us what you need, because then we can’t find you, we don’t know what’s going on, we’re worried. If you say, “Listen, I have to leave today at 2 o’clock, because my mom’s got a doctor’s appointment and I’ve got to be there because it’s hard for her to hear what’s happening and also reliably narrate to us what she learned.”

BG: Yes.

BB: Which is true, like I take people with me to the doctor, you take people with you. I know because we’re each other’s people sometimes.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I have to do that today at 2:00. I know that we have this meeting at 2:30, I have completely prepped Ashley, she has all my notes, I’ve done a full hand over with her, I can’t be here.

BG: Yeah.

BB: God, that’s beautiful, right?

BG: Yes, thank you.

BB: Rock and roll, like let me know…

BG: Good luck at the doctor.

BB: Good luck at the doctor. Can’t wait to come back and let us know what’s going on.

BB: But to be in your car frantically, saying, “Mom, shhh. Listen I’m in a meeting. Yeah, I’m in a meeting.”

BG: God, it is so stressful and there’s no need to do it.

BB: There’s no need to do it. And I would say this, think through… If you really can’t move that doctor appointment and you’re going to lose your job… I’ve been in that situation, actually.

BG: Terrible.

BB: I’ve been in that situation. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to keep your job and get your mom to the doctor. Because maybe the doctor’s appointment can’t be moved, and maybe you are working somewhere where you can’t. What I want to say to you is, that’s not sustainable. Because what will end up happening is everyone knows that shit’s not going well on the phone. You’ll end up having people think about you exactly what you don’t want them to think about you. That you’re… You don’t have your shit together.

BG: Yeah.

BB: You’ll get to the doctor’s office like worn out and panicked and probably have a fender bender on the way back.

BG: And the whole purpose you’re going to the doctors with your mom was to get the notes and you’re not going to be present to be able to do that.

BB: Yeah. And so if you have to do it, know that you’re not alone. There’s a lot of people that have to do it, but it’s not sustainable. And if it really feels like, “I’m going to die if I have to keep living this way,” that’s probably really good foreshadowing. It’s not sustainable. But also make sure that you’re not making up that you have to be that way, when it’s not true.

BG: Yeah.

BB: You know. Yeah. We just have to set boundaries. What’s okay. And that’s definition one that changed my life. Kelly Rae Roberts. Oh. Do you know who definition two is?

BG: Prentis.

BB: Prentis Hemphill. They are amazing. So Prentis has this definition of boundaries, which is so helpful. It’s the distance at which I can love both you and me.

BG: The first time I saw that, I could not even… I had to read it like three times.

BB: Oh god, me too. Yeah, so that’s Prentis Hemphill. So with work and boundaries, what do you think… The next one in BRAVING is boundaries then “R” reliability. And my boundaries and reliability are inextricably connected.

BG: Well, the one thing I was going to say about boundaries before we leave there is it’s the one element of BRAVING where sometimes we have to back into the boundaries. Because sometimes for us, it starts off as, why are you so pissed off and resentful? What is that?

BB: Oh god, yeah.

BG: And it’s like we have to just really peel the onion to get to, “Shit, I didn’t set this boundary and now I’m just really pissed off about it and resentful.” This is the one of the elements. The only one that we sometimes have to back into it by starting off by saying, “Why are you so resentful and pissed right now?” What happened was they…

BB: Do you want to role play it?

BG: I’ll give it a shot. Let’s do it.

BB: Yeah. You ask me. Because I’m really good at this. Damn it. Yeah.

BG: So my question to you is, “What is going on? You seem so pissed off and really resentful. And this is not usually how you show up. So help me understand what’s going on.”

BB: I am pissed off and resentful.

BG: About?

BB: I look that way because I freaking am that way.

BG: Say more.

BB: This book was so hard to write. It took me much longer than I thought. And it was hard to write for a lot of real reasons, many professional, many personal. And a month and a half, six weeks late getting it in. And so the last six weeks, those were the two weeks I was supposed to have off between this really difficult schedule and turning in the book. But I was writing 50, 60 hours a week through that. And now the book’s turned in on Friday, and then Monday my schedule is packed.

BB: And I am resentful. And I’m worried… I’m just being really honest. I’m worried because I need to set some boundaries about needing some time away, just even a week or five days or whatever. But I feel like I have to trade boundaries for reliability. And so I think I’ve over-committed and now I’m resentful because I have to deliver on the commitments that I made. And I don’t want to cancel them because then I’m going to be perceived as flaky, and not reliable, which is also a threat to trust. Right?

BG: Yeah.

BB: So yeah.

BG: So what are some key learnings coming off of that that we could embed moving forward?

BB: That question… I’m just going to go in time out for just a second. That question to me, has got so much healing power. To know that when you’re in a state of mind like that, that there are things we can learn to not be back in here. And also if we think about the key learnings, we can back into what we can do now, possibly. I think the key learnings are, book writing is going to take whatever time book writing takes.

BG: A hundred percent.

BB: Is that what you think the key learning is?

BG: I definitely think that one of our key learnings has to be that we can’t put a timeline on you writing a book. It doesn’t work. Because we have to serve the content. We have to serve the work. And this book was really hard and you needed every minute that you had to write it. You probably could even have used more.

BB: Yeah, I could have. Yeah, well, I could always use more, but that’s probably in perfectionism. What effing number is that on the list? But no, we were slipping in to teaching in reality right now. What’s real, what’s not. But this is real. We’re going to be honest with you.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah, so I think the key learning is… But then how does that work, actually? Like, an indefinite book writing period. Like I’m going to take all of 2021?

BG: I mean, I don’t actually know how it works, because I’ve never worked with any other authors. But I think that it’s like we have to block six months. And people probably… I make up that people are like, “Six months. Shit I blocked two years.”

BB: Yeah. Yeah. But that’s how I write.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I research for years and years, and then I have all these crazy notes, and data things. And then I start… It looks like a crime scene, ask Barrett.

BG: And I also think like, how can we be more boundaried on your behalf, and what we have holding for you when you get back.

BB: That’s interesting. Yeah. There is a relationship, don’t you think, between boundaries and reliability?

BG: Yes, I really do.

BB: Yeah. I’m AVING right now, as opposed to BRAVING.


BG: I was like going to say, “What’s AVING?”

BB: My BR is broken. Okay, what else about boundaries? Yeah, it’s really… It’s hard.

BG: It is really hard. But I do think a lot of times… And this isn’t usually when we’re sitting down, going through BRAVING together, but a lot of times it’s just like a one-off like, “What’s going on? You just seem like something’s going on,” where we have to back into boundaries, but I think we’re all getting pretty good at it, and I think we’re all really graceful when people are trying really hard to set boundaries and keep boundaries, and I think we honor that for each other.

BB: I think one of the biggest problems we have is I think we have to force people into boundaries sometimes.

BG: Oh I do too.

BB: Myself included.

BG: Me too. Me too.

BB: Yeah, you’re not good at it either.

BG: I stated that up front.

BB: [laughter] No, I’m just saying that I’ll have to say, “You need to take two days off.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: “You need to take these days off.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: I will say to someone, “Look, the crisis you’re in is real, and it’s easier for us and better for us, if we all acknowledge that it’s real, so we can support you the way we need to support you, take you off the grid… ” I mean Murdock is the king.

BG: Murdock is so good at it.

BB: Murdock is just like, “This is real, this is life, this is important. We’ll see you in three weeks. I’ll work with you tomorrow to put a handover document together, but you’re taking the time.”

BG: Yeah, and so now when we’re talking about it this way, it is definitely boundaries and reliability hand-in-hand, because I would have put that under reliability. Just in terms of, “I really need you to ask for what you need, so that I can count on… What can I count on from you? And it’s okay if it’s nothing, it’s okay if I got one day this week, but I need… ”

BB: An accurate assessment.

BG: An accurate assessment, and I’m terrible model. I’m terrible model at asking for what I need. I’m getting better, but I do not do a good job at modeling that for my team.

BB: I’m missing that part of my brain. We’re going… [laughter]

BG: Oh it’s genetic, yes. [laughter] Answers.

BB: Yep. Sorry y’all. No, I’m missing the part of my brain where I can forecast accurately how long something’s going to take and what it’s going to take out of me. It’s okay, you can agree.

BG: No, but I know, but at some point we have to help, we need to step in and we need to say, “Okay, you think you’re going to write this book… The biggest book that you’ve written so far in six weeks… ”

BB: I didn’t say six weeks.

BG: Oh, it was three months, I mean…

BB: Three or four months, but I mean also yeah, it’s like 20 years of research and then three years of very specific research on this with a research team, so it’s not like… It’s like, I think this shit up and write it all down in three months.

BG: Yeah, no.

BB: So I’m working on it every day of my life.

BG: Yes, and so I just think at some point we have to just be like, “For us, six months is what we need to block for you to write, and then… ”

BB: But what if I spend the first four months watching Law and Order?

BG: That’s problematic.


BB: But that’s part of my process.

BG: It’s the Law and Order, and then there’s nesting that goes into it.

BB: Shut up, you don’t know me.

BG: [laughter] I do actually know you.

BB: You don’t know anything about my process. She’s like, “Oh, Law and Order. Oh, new pillows. When’s the book due?” Okay so reliability.

BG: Reliability [said simultaneously with BB saying “Reliability”].

BB: Jinx. Shut up. You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of competing priorities and limitations, so you don’t over-promise and you’re able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

BG: I mean just literally asking for what you need, and I have a bad habit of taking on too much stuff.

BB: I can help you with that.


BB: No, can y’all see though that we’re laughing about this, but these are the things that threaten trust.

BG: Oh totally.

BB: I’m just saying that like… If you said “Brené, are you a trustworthy person,” I’m like, “Oh my god, ride or die.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: Hell yes, I’m trustworthy. But every day I engage in behaviors that undermine how trustworthy I want to be.

BG: I don’t like this podcast anymore, don’t invite me back.

BB: [laughter] No it’s true.

BG: I do too, but I’m thinking like… I’m like, Oh BRAVING, I got this, but now that we’re digging into it, it’s like harder.

BB: And maybe I’m just “VING” as opposed to “AVING”. Because inextricably connected to boundaries, reliability, is accountability.

BG: It says “You own your mistakes, apologize and make amends. That’s accountability.”

BB: Yeah.

BG: You are 100% accountable.

BB: But am I accountable to myself?

BG: You’ll have to check with yourself, I don’t know.

BB: Ba-dum-bump. I am accountable, I have to say. I’m pretty sure that the morning show got a line from my Instagram comments because that’s a great example. So I put somewhere a year ago, more than a year ago, that I think I used the term spirit animal.

BG: Yes.

BB: And then very quickly in the comments, someone was like, “That’s super inappropriate, it’s appropriation, it’s hurtful.” And so I jumped in, changed it and said, “I apologize. I apologize that my learning was at the expense of hurting other people, and I understand and it will not happen again,” so in that kind of accountability I’m…

BG: Oh yes.

BB: Definitely good.

BG: I remember when that happened too, because we were all like, “We need to pull down this post, we need to pull down this post,” and you said, “No, we need to take it as an opportunity to say, we know better now and we’ll do better.” It was a great learning opportunity, but we were all… I remember that happening.

BB: Yeah. And I think part of the reason why accountability is a strong suit for me is because I’m really here to get it right, not to be right, and if I have any ego wrapped up in anything, I have ego wrapped up in getting it right and being a learner, you know what I mean? I’m so committed to being a learner and so not committed to being a knower. And I’m sure that’s got a downside too, because any overzealous over-commitment to anything you have to think through, but I can’t think exactly off the hand of what being a learner is. Maybe the thing you have to watch out for in being a learner is giving yourself too much permission to do whatever and say whatever you want, and then back it up all the time and back it up, but I don’t think I do that.

BG: No you’re…

BB: I think I’m thoughtful, so I do think this is a strong point for me. What do you think about accountability?

BG: I think I just initially go right to blame.

BB: Oh god, me too. Is that not the right answer?


BG: No, because it says, you own your mistakes. Apologize and make amends. So I always have to say, “Oh shit, why am I blaming so much?”

BB: Oh shut up.

BG: “What’s my part in this?” And then like, “Oh no, that was my ball drop.”


BB: We’re sorry.


BB: Due to technical difficulties, we’re shutting this shit down now.


BG: Honestly, but I think what’s really helpful is I think it’s actually for both of us, really inside of our awareness, and it’s a flag for us, “Oh, why are we yelling at the steering wheel right now? And why do we have so much blame?” And then to kind of slow it down and think about what your part is. I think it’s a flag for both of us. I think we do pretty well at acknowledging it and then coming back to the table and saying, “This was actually on me.”

BB: I mean, Steve and I just had a really hard time last night, and I blamed him for a couple of things yesterday when I was just… It was my stress, and I’ve got to intervene with my blaming earlier in the process. I’ve got to not blame.

BG: I mean, if that could be the next book, it would be really helpful for a lot of people I know. I’m asking for a friend.

BB: Oh, it’s your fault that you need that book.


BG: You’re rude.

BB: No, yeah, it’s hard.

BG: I mean, and it’s even something as simple as like, I didn’t email someone back in a timely manner.

BB: Yeah, I know. Yeah.

BG: I’m like, “Well, shit, I mean, if I didn’t have every single email coming to me, then this wouldn’t happen.”


BG: It’s not like…


BB: Well, if I didn’t get the email, then I wouldn’t have missed emailing back.

BG: Yeah. See? Exactly.

BB: Yeah.

BG: A smart way to look at it.


BB: You know what? Let me think about this for a minute. Pause cast. Alert. Pause cast alert. This is not dead air, I’m thinking. So I’m having a big effing aha moment.

BG: Tell me.

BB: I think that I’m really good at accountability when it’s a thinking problem, a cognitive problem. But when I have experienced any emotional reactivity to what’s going on, that’s when I blame. So let me give you an example. Charlie’s driving, it’s scary. He’s like coming home. I email the moms of the friends that he’s driving, “Hey, are your boys home yet?” And they said, “No, we’re all at the swim meet. In fact, Charlie’s event is next.” And I forgot there was a swim meet. And I call Steve and I’m like, “What the shit, man? Like, you do the swim schedules. Like we’re not there for his meet?” I blame, blame, blame, blame, because I’m not thinking. I’m emotionally reactive in fear.

BG: Tell us what blame means.

BB: Research-wise it is a construct, it’s just the discharging of pain and discomfort. So when I have emotional reactivity around what I’m being held accountable for, that’s when I have a tendency to blame. So when I feel shame…

BG: Yeah.

BB: Is a big one, like the missed email example that you gave.

BG: Totally.

BB: So I think that blame is what sabotages my accountability is my emotional reactivity.

BG: That’s hard.

BB: Did you understand what I’m saying?

BG: Oh yeah. Totally.

BB: Yeah, because I think… Why didn’t I just say, “Hey babe, I found Charlie. He’s at a swim meet. He’s getting ready to swim right now, and we missed it,” and then, you know, I’m thinking of Harriet Lerner’s, The Dance of Anger. I’m so enraged that Steve can’t feel his feelings, and so Steve’s like, “Oh man, I can’t believe we missed it.” And of course, you know, rationally, by the end of the night, after I apologize for blaming, we got to the point where this is swim meet like 4,694 this year.


BG: Yeah.

BB: We don’t miss anything, and it’s not a big deal. But accountability really requires the ability to regulate and manage emotion appropriately.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Do you think?

BG: I do think.

BB: Because I know people who are rarely accountable. They rarely say, “I was wrong. I made a mistake, I apologize. Let me make amends.” Or, “That was not my intention, but I see the impact was terrible.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: “And I apologize. And intention or no intention, this is how this hurt you.” The people I know, and I think Harriet Lerner who writes so eloquently on apology, which we have an Unlocking Us double episode on apologies, which is so freaking powerful.

BG: We do.

BB: I think the people that I know in my life that I have worked with and for and who report to me and who are related to me, and just people that don’t ever really step into accountability are also people who struggle the most with shame. They can’t say, “I did something wrong, I’m sorry.” They don’t apologize or hold themselves accountable, because shame doesn’t say, “Hey, you didn’t do something bad, you are bad. You didn’t drop a ball, you are the dropped ball.”

BG: But can I say, at least for me, I instinctively go there, but very quickly can be like, “Oh no, I’m not the dropped ball. There’s a million things on my plate and I missed it, and it sucked, and I hate that they didn’t get a response from me, timely.”

BB: Yeah.

BG: “But I am just literally doing the best I can.”

BB: Yeah. I think I…

BG: I can very quickly get there, but I do start there.

BB: So can I. But I think that’s why your accountability is so high. What I’m saying is that people, when we don’t get there, I think it’s because we’re stuck in shame, because they take it out of work.

BG: Yeah.

BB: You know, with work…

BG: Nope, I’m staying right here at work.

BB: No, but I think there’s something about shame and accountability. That’s why when people say, “That’s this whole bullshit about, let’s shame people into better behaviors,” there’s nothing that corrodes accountability faster than shame.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Because shame is not, “I did something wrong,” it’s, “I am wrong.” It’s not, “I did something bad,” “I am bad.” And so I think there’s something there. And I think you can get there quickly with work. And I think I can get there quickly with work. Look, when I read that I hurt people because I used an appropriated term, that was hurtful to indigenous Americans, the first place I go is, “God, you’re an idiot.” And then I literally have done so much shame work that I have to come out of it and say, “This is not helpful.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: This is not helpful. I’m not an idiot, I made a mistake. And when we’re in shame, we either defend, rationalize, or blame. I just have to say, “I have to own this and be accountable for it,” because that’s the only apology that’ll be meaningful to the people that were actually hurt.

BG: Yeah. So it takes awareness too.

BB: Oh my god, that’s the word.

BG: Interesting.

BB: Do you want to shut this shit down now?


BG: No, we still have to go through four more.

BB: This is the BRA podcast, we’re just not getting through anymore. I’ve got good VING and this is the BRA podcast.

BG: Yeah, VING is good. I do. I agree with you.


BB: Okay, let’s do the next one, V for vault, you don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be kept confidential. This is tricky, vault is confidentiality, but what people don’t understand about confidentiality, is that there’s two sides to it.

BG: Yes.

BB: So if you come to me and you say, “Can we talk a little bit more about why I didn’t get the special project lead?” And I said, “You know, we’ve been working on trust so well, over the last year. We still have a couple of areas, one of them is vault.” And then you say to me, “But you’ve shared such confidential things with me since I’ve worked here and I’ve never shared any of those things,” and I said, “Yeah, but on a regular basis, you come into my office and share things with me that are not yours to share.”

BG: Yes.

BB: And people don’t get that side of confidentiality, because we actually trust less and we worry, I think. And so we worry when people share things with us, even though we’re doing it as a bonding, to hot wire connection, to keep you in the loop to say, “Hey, guess what? This is going on out there and you may not know it.” It corrodes trust. What are your experiences of vault, working with your team and other people?

BG: Yeah, I think we actually do really well with vault, I think it’s interesting because so many people that we work with are really transparent about who they are and their lives, and so I think it’s… For us, vault has not been an issue. I feel like I can trust people with my experiences, and I feel like they can trust me with theirs. And the only time I really feel like I need to share something or talk about it with the leadership team, I will just say, “This feels really important and it feels like it could impact the next couple of weeks, so I’m going to share it with the round up team or the leadership team. I’m always very clear when I’m going to share something.

BB: I think the part I struggle with the most is sometimes I’ll feel bad or I feel like I wonder if I’m doing right by people, if I come to you or come to you and another person and say, “I’m really struggling with this person, can we role-play? Can you tell me, is this my stuff? Am I making up stories? Why is this hard?” And sometimes I wonder, am I talking about people instead of to people, which is a big hallmark of our ethos.

BG: But I feel like when that happens, and that goes both ways for us, it’s like you wanting to role play and you wanting to talk it through is in preparation for talking to them.

BB: No, that’s true.

BG: It’s not that you’re talking about people instead of to them, it’s important to you, that it’s thoughtful and intentional, and you’ve thought about things before you do it. I actually… I would never score you low on the vault. Although we don’t score. And sometimes we’ve had conversations where you or I have said, “No, I think that’s your shit.”

BB: I was just getting ready to say, I think I hear that a lot when I…

BG: But I don’t actually think it’s a break in confidence to say, “This is what happened, I feel like this is my part.”

BB: Is there something I’m not seeing?

BG: Reality check this for me.

BB: Yeah, I think that’s true.

BG: Yeah, I think that stays in the vault, I think that’s…

BB: It’s so clearly different than gossiping.

BG: Oh yes, I totally agree.

BB: Because the intention is so different too.

BG: Yes.

BB: Yeah. Okay, let’s go to the next one. Integrity, choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy and practicing your values, not just professing them. You can correct me here. I feel like we have people with such integrity.

BG: I do too.

BB: We know everybody’s values. And we see people and their values all the time.

BG: I totally agree. And what you’re saying about vault, I feel like that’s actually part of integrity. You want to have a meaningful conversation with someone and you want to role play it. That is being in your integrity and choosing courage over comfort. And wanting to make sure that you’re having the right conversation. I think we make space in our organization, for people to choose courage over comfort.

BB: I think that’s true.

BG: And we have this beautiful gift of this thing called the circle back, in case you try it on and it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

BB: Yeah, I mean, I want to circle back with you. I don’t like the way I showed up, I don’t like what I said, you know.

BG: I mean, I’ve even circled back with people on my team where like, I had three pages of notes exactly how this wanted to go. And I think I wasn’t proud of how, when the conversation went different than my notes, I got really tangled, so I’d like to just start over. I have said that so many times to people.

BB: Yeah, me too.

BG: Yeah.

BB: And I think the big part for me with integrity is not choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy. We just don’t have any of that here.

BG: We don’t.

BB: If I ever said, “I thought we were going to clean this up,” but yet it got published like this, and someone said, “Well, it’s just easier and faster to do it this way.”

BG: Oh, no. Yeah.

BB: I think I’d pass out.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah.

BG: We don’t mind the messy middle of…

BB: No, no, and we really… You’ve heard Barrett say this a couple of times during this podcast, in episode one, it is really about serving the work.

BG: We all believe so deeply in the work and so it’s not hard for us to…

BB: It can be hard, but we don’t cut corners.

BG: We don’t.

BB: Okay. Non-judgment, I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need, we can talk about how we feel without judgment, not it.

BG: So, I think we can talk to each other about how we feel without judgment, I think we’re all really pretty good at that. I think I can ask for what I need and you can ask for what you need is a little bit harder. You talk about this, and especially assigning… How do you say it? Assigning your worth to being the person that helps people, that when you actually have to ask for help it…

BB: Yeah.

BG: I know I’m like jumbling that a bit.

BB: Sounds perfect to me. No. I think when you think you’re worth in relationships is how you take care of other people, you’re not good at this. And I can tell you that if you’re a person who starts asking for what you need and you’re the caregiver in all your relationships…

BG: People don’t like that.

BB: People don’t like that. That reverberates.

BG: It does, but for the first time in your life, like I know because a friend told me.

BB: We’re talking about us, just act like we’re not because…

BG: No, I think it’s kind of liberating.

BB: It is, but the pushback is scary.

BG: It is.

BB: I’ve lost friends.

BG: It is, but then it’s also like for me, I’ve also had the experience of people who are like, “Oh my god, thank you. I mean, that’s a big deal that you asked me to do something for you.”

BB: Yeah. I had, this was the whole relationship I had with you and Ashley as your sister superior.

BG: No, wait, we were going to change that yesterday, Chief Executive sister.


BB: God, whenever we go visit my mom, she introduces us to everyone as “these are my bosses,” This is Barrett and she has a twin, Ashley, and then this one over here she’s the head of the bosses, she’s the oldest, she’s the chief boss.

BG: So yeah, I liked yesterday when you’re like, Chief Executive sister.

BB: No, I don’t want to be.

BG: But it’s better than sister superior.

BB: Well, that’s true, but it does accentuate the nun in me.


BG: That is so not… Yeah.

BB: Okay, so yeah, I’ve lost friends.

BG: Really?

BB: So my therapist had me work on whenever someone said something really hard going on, I would say, “Oh, I can fix that, or I can introduce you to this, or I can do that, or I can do that.” Why are you shaking your head yes mother trucker?

BG: No, because I… Yeah.


BB: Again, so Diana had me saying, “Wow, that sounds really tough or that sounds really painful, or that sounds really hard.” So for the first two weeks when someone would say something really hard, I would say, “God that sounds hard. I’m really sorry. Here’s how I can help.” And then…


BG: That’s not what you’re supposed to do.

BB: No. But then when I started dropping off the second part, people looked at me like I was disappointing them.

BG: Well, how’d that feel for you?

BB: The paradox of disappointing other people, but not betraying myself. I’m not… Do you know what I mean?

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah. I think it’s hard for me. I think, as a first born and as the superior… No.

BG: And it’s weird, because I don’t think of you as a fixer, I think of you as a sit in the dark with you kind of person, but you have a lot of knowledge and information and resources.

BB: Resources too. Yeah, I know a lot of people. Let me introduce this person. Yeah. And so… And the hard thing is that I do that a lot for people and I want to do it, but it’s when I don’t want to do it for people that, I can’t figure that out. It’s about doing it out of love or duty.

BG: Oh, that’s big. I’m going to use that.

BB: And duty feels like shit.


BG: Oh my god. We better wrap up fast. Okay, on to…

BB: Wait, what’s that? That’s funny, I’m going to coin that. That shit is going to catch fire in 12-Step rooms, I can tell you right now.

BG: That’s going to be the asset that goes out for this podcast.

BB: Right, that’s going to be the quote card. Duty feels likes shit. And let’s spell duty. How do you spell duty?

BG: I don’t know, D-O-O-T-Y. Dooty.


BB: Did you do that because it rhymes with booty?


BG: Oh my god, we better stop.

BB: Stay focused, this is a leadership podcast, Barrett, these people are serious on the other end.


BB: Okay.

BG: I just want to make sure everyone knows that I know it’s D-U-T-Y.


BB: Okay, generosity. We’re going to do a whole podcast on this. We’re going to do a whole podcast.

BG: Uh huh. Living BIG.

BB: This is maybe looking back retrospectively, that’s a double thing looking back, this might be one of the most important findings from all my research, this whole idea of extending the most generous interpretation to the intentions, words, and actions of others. So in the corporate sector this is a super popular value, especially in the tech kind of founder starter culture, where it’s the… What do they call it?

BB: The assumption of positive intent. I think that’s what they call it. The hard thing is, that is one of the most difficult things we do in our lives is assume positive intent, especially when something’s hurtful or hard, and there are a ton of pre-requisites for it that no one talks about when they slap that value on a freaking eagle poster and hang it in the break room. But it is a part of trust. A part of trust is that I give you the benefit of doubt when your words, actions, and intentions feel hard.

BG: It really takes me a minute to get there.

BB: It does, and I think that’s because it’s a very complex process actually. And are we going to do that podcast on Unlocking Us?

BG: I think so, yeah.

BB: Yeah, look for the living BIG, because we call it living BIG, it’s what boundaries need to be in place for me to be in my integrity and generous towards you. So what I would say, just for the sake of this podcast is you can’t be generous toward others if you’re not practicing boundaries, we can’t assume positive things about people who are walking all over us. And so we know that we looked for this variable for five years in the research, the people who are the most generous toward others, what did they share in common, and the hypothesis in the beginning, I think, was it spirituality? I think it was spirituality or faith, the people that assumed generous things about other people, but it wasn’t that. We interviewed monks, and then what we learned was the greatest predictor variable in terms of how generous you’re going to be toward other people is how firm your boundaries are, and how clear your boundaries are toward people. And so we’ll have to dig into this another podcast, but look for Unlocking Us, we’ll try to do it this season if we can.

BG: Yeah, time for a quick story. And you can say no.

BB: Yeah.

BG: For me, when I think about the generosity, the kicking the rock story…

BB: Oh, yeah.

BG: It really resonates with me.

BB: Yeah, so this will be getting into BIG a little bit, but not fully. So the whole idea about the living BIG research is this relationship between boundaries and empathy and compassion and generosity, and how boundaries is a pre-requisite for these things. So I think for the sake of this podcast, we will leave generosity at just a very kind of primer on BIG, and I’ll ask this question of you, what boundaries would need to be in place for you to be generous toward the assumptions of other people, and how do you get curious about that, and I think the big hack for this is the story I’m making up.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Right. The story I’m making up is you just said that to hurt my feelings, or the story I’m making up is you said that because you know it’s a really tender place for me, or at work, I would say, the story I’m making up is I didn’t get this deliverable today, because from the very beginning, you’ve talked about how you did not think this was a good idea, and we as a team agreed that we were going to move forward, and now I don’t have the deliverable, so I’m making up that you’re not on board with the group’s decision, that’s why I don’t have the deliverable today. And I think one of the most vulnerable, most courageous things we can do when we’re trying to be generous is start with what’s the story we’re making up, and a lot of times we’re not generous because the story we make up, and I make up the story all the time, is you’re trying to piss me off on purpose.


BB: Right?

BG: Yes.

BB: You’re trying to fuck me over here.

BG: Yup.

BB: And it’s such a hurtful thing about the stories we make up.

BG: And it’s changed so much for me at work, the story I’m telling myself because it’s a neutral way to start the conversation, it’s not like blaming and it’s not taking accountability, it’s just literally, here’s what I’m making up about what happened.

BB: Yeah, and I think recently, I had an experience of doing that where I felt like it was hurtful what I was making up, and I wish I would have started the conversation by saying, you agreed to do this, you talk to some other people and shifted course. But I didn’t know you shifted course. Can you help me understand what happened?

BG: Yeah.

BB: Then I would maybe pause and maybe come out, well the story I’m making up is this, but I think I wish I would’ve gotten curious first and said, help me understand or walk me through how this shifted and I didn’t know about it.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Does that make sense?

BG: Totally.

BB: So maybe it’s even broader than just the story I’m making up, maybe the key to generosity is curiosity.

BG: Yes, I think so.

BB: Because I’ve never been in a situation around the assumption of generosity where curiosity was not key.

BG: Yeah, walk me through… Yeah.

BB: Help me understand.

BG: You’re right.

BB: That’s not my experience of what happened, can you tell me your experience of what we talked about?

BG: Totally.

BB: Which brings to another great hack, which I learned from the one and only Susan Mann, who’s a Dare to Leadfacilitator, a Daring Way facilitator, and also does a lot of coaching with us individually. The most important thing she’s taught me is the play back.

BG: Oh my gosh, yes. I love that too.

BB: So just to say… So let me play this back for you. So the most important thing that you got from Susan was also the play back?

BG: That’s right.

BB: Yeah, it’s just… Let me play back before… It takes 20 seconds and saves a ton of tears and hurt.

BG: Yes.

BB: Alright, this is good. I’m so tired now.

BG: I know.

BB: This is hard.

BG: Yeah, it was.

BB: But you know what I’m really grateful for? I’m really grateful, of course, for you for doing this with me because it’s brave. So thank you.

BG: You’re welcome.

BB: And I’m grateful that we just didn’t fly through BRAVING and make it sound like it’s easy.

BG: Yeah, it’s not easy. I mean, you get used to it, we do it so much. But it’s never easy. It’s more comfortable as you go.

BB: Yeah.

BG: But I think it’s never easy.

BB: And the complexity of the relationships between the variables between the seven elements.

BG: And surprising when I work with BRAVING with my team, I think it’s only ever happened one time where we didn’t have the same elements where we were both stuck.

BB: Oh really? I think I’ve had both. Most of the time we’re right aligned. We’re just right on track, but one time, maybe two or three years ago, I was really shocked by… I made a flippant comment one day, and that comment was so hurtful to this person, and they held on to it for a long time, and for me it was just like a pissed off flippy comment, but for them, it was a real shaming moment.

BG: Oh man.

BB: And thank god, we pulled out BRAVING.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Because I think it would have been that case for two years, or luckily it was just a couple of months after it happened.

BG: Yeah.

BB: There’s not a right or wrong, but I would have experienced exactly how they experienced it.

BG: Damn.

BB: Yeah.


BB: Alright, y’all, thank you for being with us and thank you for walking through BRAVING with us. There will be an episode page on Brené Brown dot com and both Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead are on Spotify, and we’re grateful that you are just leaning in and learning and screwing it up and fixing it and circling back. I so need to do this with the community people.

BG: My favorite construct of yours, circling back.

BB: The circle back. Is it because we both do it so often? [laughter]

BG: I think so.

BB: We so dizzy from circling back so much.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Thank y’all. Stay awkward, brave, and kind. The Dare to Lead podcast is a Spotify original from Parcast. It’s hosted by me, Brené Brown, produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden, and Tristan McNeil. And by Weird Lucy Productions. Sound design by Tristan McNeil. And the music is by The Suffers.

© 2021 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2021, November 1). Brené and Barrett on BRAVING Trust, Part 2 of 2. [Audio podcast episode]. In Dare to Lead with Brené Brown. Parcast Network.

Back to Top