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On this episode of Unlocking Us

We’re back, and we are starting the year with a deep dive into values. I’m not a fan of resolutions, but I absolutely believe in the power of resetting. I can’t think of a more powerful way to double down on ourselves than getting clear on our values and the behaviors that support them — and the shit that gets in the way. Join us as Barrett and I talk through a values exercise PDF that we made for you to do your own values work. Of all the work we do with leaders and teams, this is probably the biggest game changer. Let’s go!

About the guests

Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She also holds the position of visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

Brené has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of six #1 New York Times bestsellers and is the host of two award-winning podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

Brené’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and her titles include Atlas of the HeartDare to Lead, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. With Tarana Burke, she co-edited the bestselling anthology You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience.

Brené’s TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with over 60 million views. Brené is the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix, and in March 2022, she launched a new show on HBO Max that focuses on her latest book, Atlas of the Heart.

Brené spends most of her time working in organizations around the world, helping develop braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie, and a weird Bichon named Lucy.

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 every day 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


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us.


BB: I missed y’all. Welcome back, Barrett we’re back.

Barrett Guillen: We’re back!

BB: We’re back! Oof!


BB: I don’t know, I had a vision for 2022 [chuckle] that was easier than what we’re in right now.

BG: January is so hard usually, always.

BB: God dang it! January is hard. And every year I say, “Hey, in February, I’m like, planning for next year, January is hard.” And then I go into this like, “But not this time.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: January is tough.

BG: It’s totally been a hard start.

BB: A hard start. And we celebrate Christmas in our family, and that was different and hard because we had a COVID diagnosis on Christmas Eve…

BG: Yeah.

BB: Right before our big… Yeah, not a big family gathering, but all the siblings with each of the parents.

BG: But you know, I haven’t talked to one family who really wasn’t impacted in some way over the holiday break.

BB: Yeah, I’ve had a couple of friends say “I don’t know how we made it through, but you know, we did it,” but everyone else was kind of last minute changes, and rearranging and yeah, it was… I don’t know, I was talking to Ashley… Oh you were there. I was talking to Ashley, for those of you who have not listened to the Sister Series, that’s our other sister, who’s actually Barrett’s identical twin, who’s a therapist, and… Hey, what’s wrong with you? Catch up on the Sister Series. [laughter] But we were talking about something and she said, “People are not okay.”

BG: Mm-hmm.

BB: People are not okay.

BG: I agree.

BB: Yeah, I’m not okay. [chuckle]

BG: No, I’m not okay.

BB: Yeah, I just think it’s… I don’t know, I think you get so close to some normalcy and then have that pulled out from underneath you more than once, twice. Yeah, it’s hard. I’m glad to be back. I’m excited about you and I doing this together today.

BG: It will be fun.

BB: Yeah.

BG: And you’re back back… This is like you’re unofficial first day back.

BB: Yeah I know, I took three, four weeks off?

BG: Yeah.

BB: I did, first time in my whole career. And let me tell you, that’s dangerous because big changes are coming [chuckle] no one should give me that much time. I was just thinking, is it you and I, or me and you? I don’t remember, but I’m glad we’re together doing this.

BG: Me too.

BB: Okay, and I’m super clear, it’s not I too.


BG: Yes! Look at that start. Yeah.

BB: Yeah. Let’s go. Okay, so I have to tell y’all that we wanted to do something for the new year that’s really different and you’re either going to like it or you’re going to not like it, and then you’ll let us know on social using nice words.


BB: I thought we would do some work together, and so if you go to, you’re going to find a downloadable PDF for this episode, especially made for this episode, and we’re going to do it together. So if you’re walking right now and you’re like, “Shit, I can’t do that,” you can listen to me and Barrett do it. You can pause and come back. But I want to take us through an exercise that I think is life-changing. So that’s what we’re going to do in our first episode of Unlocking Us for 2022.


BG: Let’s do it.

BB: Let’s do it.


BB: Okay, let’s get started. So I am not a fan of resolutions because there’s so much… The whole like “New Year, New You” marketing scheme is so stressful to me.

BG: [chuckle] Me too.

BB: On January 1st, I’m in deep recovery. I’m not bouncing up. And I swear to God, I keep getting these texts that say like, “You can lose 30 pounds if you click here on this link.” And twice I just texted back, “Fuck you.” But I think… I don’t think that’s the same as stop text, but it should be.

BG: No, I bet it doesn’t. I bet the robot doesn’t pick it up the same… [chuckle]

BB: Yeah.

BG: It’s January, read the room people. [chuckle]

BB: Read the room. I’m just not a fan. And maybe I’m also not a fan, to be honest with you, because I don’t mark the new year in January, because kind of as a professor, I mark the new year in August, and then I end the year in May. So… [chuckle] Perpetually a student. But I was trying to think of what would be valuable to do in January as kind of a… If you’re in a “Great, get up and go, let’s do it.” If you’re in the, “Do you want a bonbon place?” Or if you’re in the like, “Oh my God, I’m barely standing place.” What could be helpful? And we do an exercise, that’s part of Dare to Lead, part of courage building, that has been… When we get feedback, we’ve taken 100,000 people through the Dare to Lead courage building program, and it has been life-changing for people. So that’s what we’re going to do today. Barrett and I are going to do ours with you, and then we have the PDF for you to do yours. So it’s basically a values exercise about not just naming your values, but operationalizing them into behaviors, understanding what they are, understanding what it looks and feels like when you’re aligned with them, and what it looks and feels like when you’re not aligned with them, and it’s hard. Right?

BG: Yeah. It’s really hard.

BB: But I have to say, and I’d be curious about your experience, I’d have to say in the end, when the water is deep and swift and I’m in a hard place, it is… My values are the most consistent life raft for me.

BG: Yeah, I agree, I think so too. It’s a system that you can lean into for yourself when shit’s really hard and you can’t even put the next foot forward, sometimes you can always just lean into it.

BB: Yeah, that’s it. It’s always right there. And it’s not someone texting you bullshit about who you should be, it’s not pictures, it’s not like the gym calling saying like, “Get your shit together. It’s January.” This is just you. This is you doubling down on you.

BG: Yes, yes.

BB: Yeah, nothing external. But we need to excavate it in a way, and we’ve got a pretty good process for it, so let’s jump in. So again, if you’re walking right now, or running or driving and you don’t… You didn’t say, “Hey, I’m going to listen to the first Unlocking Us podcast with a pen and I’m going to have my laptop and printer here just in case I need to download something,” listen through with us. And the nice thing is, I don’t think you need to listen again because the PDF will take you through each of these steps, super self-explanatory. If you want to fill it out yourself and then listen again, that could be a neat way to do it.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Okay, so the first thing we’re going to do, and this is really interesting, is a part of the PDF will be a list of values. Now, one of the things that’s interesting is, how did I get to this place where I’m saying, you need to pick two? I reverse engineered it from over 500,000 pieces of data talking to people, and people who have clarity, people who were both thoughtful and decisive, people who were vulnerable and also brave; which I don’t think you can be one without the other, one of the things that they had in common was real clarity about their values, and when I asked, “What are your values?” no one gave me eight, no one gave me four. People gave me one or two. And so when you look at this big list of values that’s on the PDF, it’s really… We have in our experience, it’s really difficult to get to two.

BG: [chuckle] Yeah.

BB: And so here’s how I would approach this list. This list is from accountability to wisdom and everything in between. It’s probably… What do you think, there’s 100, at least?

BG: Probably, yeah.

BB: Yeah. Patience, kindness, knowledge, freedom, financial stability, environment. It’s all here. Culture. So what I want you to do is when you look at this big list, I want you to start by circling 15 even, that speak to you. Because the thing is that if you have 15 values that are… We can’t end up there because then you’re like a Hallmark store, they’re not helpful when you have 15 of them. So I want you to start, and I want you to circle as many of them really speak to you, but no more than 10 or 15. So once you’ve done that, then we’re going to get to the two. And the best way… And this is where the work, it’s happening, something’s changing in you as you do this exercise.

BG: It totally is.

BB: Especially I think with this question. To get from the 15 or the 10 to the two, we ask ourselves these questions. What are the one or two values, looking at all the circled ones, where everything else is forged, that all these are great, but without these, there’s really nothing. And when you look at the values, you’re asking, “Does this define me? Is this who I am at my best? Is this a filter that I use to make hard decisions?” Have you struggled to get it to two? Do you still struggle? We’ve been doing it for a long time.

BG: Yeah, yeah, I can still struggle, and sometimes I’m like, “Oh, but maybe it’s this one.” And you know, mine change. Yours have been the same for a while, but last year mine… I actually changed mine, and so yeah, I can still sometimes get caught up in like, “Oh, but family. I work with my family, I love my family, I want to spend all my time with my family. Why isn’t that one?” But I have found that it can ladder up under something else.

BB: Yeah. I’m the same way. In fact… So let me tell you my two. My two are courage and faith. What about you?

BG: Courage and growth.

BB: And I have to say that it wasn’t like a, “Hey, I’m going to go to the list and pick a new one.” That change to growth…

BG: It picked me.


BB: But it actually did.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Say more. Can you say more without… I don’t want you to disclose what you don’t want to disclose, but too late, these people already know all your shit.

BG: Yeah. They already all know us. Yeah, I think it was just for me, it kept growing as a person, growing as a leader, growing as a sister. I thought about it being curiosity because it was kind of the same for me, but it’s not. I just want to keep growing. I want to keep doing my personal work. I have a therapist, I have a leadership coach. I’m always asking for feedback just from anybody that I’m working with every day, in my marriage, as a parent, and so I think it’s just I want to grow, I want to be better. And I think… I don’t know if we were doing the end of the year values exercise with the team or what… I can’t remember when it came up, but I was like, growth actually is where it is for me.

BB: You know what it was? It was… We were sitting right in here in the other office, and we were doing it as a team.

BG: Oh, that… Yeah.

BB: Yeah, it’s so funny. I’m curious that… It’s like a chicken-egg question, I think you get a lot of feedback. I know that you have from me about growth, about, God, just remarkable growth, and especially in leadership, and hard feedback.

BG: But don’t think that those things don’t go over to your personal life because having difficult conversations has been key across…

BB: Oh yeah, yeah, I don’t… Remind me to tell them the funny professional personal thing in a minute.

BG: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BB: Do you think it was that you got feedback about how much growth some of the more senior leaders had seen in you, or do you think… How do you think that shift happened? Was it a chicken-egg thing?

BG: I don’t know, I think it’s a great question. I’d have to think about it because I think I was coming to a point in my own personal therapy journey, and then also at work, where I just settled into my skin.

BB: Yeah, I remember… I… You could see it actually.

BG: Yeah, and so I think it was just like every single day, I would wake up and just want to be like, “What could I get better at today? What can I just do a little bit different? What am I not doing because it feels a little scary?” And just do it. And also, I feel like I was that annoying person that, “Give me some feedback. Could I have shown up a little bit better? How could I have done that differently?” to everybody, and not just you, but then again, I am the lucky one who sits in the room when you do all of these events for all of these organizations, all of these speaking events, and I get to hear you do it sometimes two or three times a week. And so I just really have found myself in this place where I want feedback because I want to be different. Not different, but the best version of me.

BB: So, do y’all hear how she… She’s into this. [laughter] Do you hear how she lights up when she talks about it? That’s… Was it curiosity before?

BG: No.

BB: It was courage and what? I don’t remember.

BG: God, I can’t remember. I’d have to look at the list.

BB: Yeah, so I’m struggling right now actually. And one of the ones… So in this list, you’ll see where there’s a write your own. Mine have been courage and faith for a really, really… Since forever.

BG: Yes.

BB: Yeah. And probably before I did the exercise, those were the two things I leaned into, I think courage and faith. I remember thinking about those and talking to a sponsor in AA about courage and faith, 25 years ago or 26 years ago when I first got sober. Those have always been my values. Now, I have wanted to change faith, how many times? Like, 477 times. I don’t want it to be faith. I really don’t. I’m pissed off at church. No, I don’t want it to be faith, it just seemed so… It’s not my favorite. So the ones that I struggle with is I think courage is a value for sure. Did you find your… Did you find the one?

BG: I think it was reliability.

BB: Was it?

BG: It was either the reliability or accountability one. I can’t remember which one.

BB: Yeah. And whatever one it was, it was not memorable for either one of us, because you didn’t talk about it like you talked about growth, and that’s how like, boom, you’re on it. So for me, the two that I really struggle with are curiosity, because I would say that’s just a huge part of who I am.

BG: I know, and it’s like your super power.

BB: Maybe, yeah. And then the other one that is something, it’s my word of the year. You know Ali Edwards, my friend Ali Edwards has the word of the year. It’s the word of the year, and it’s also the bullshit that on my Enneagram that says I can’t get integrated as a number one until I get better with this, but discernment.

BG: Oh!

BB: I need to be more discerning. I need to make better choices and not…

BG: But is that a value?

BB: Is it a value or is it a skill?

BG: I mean could you think of other things that would ladder up under discernment? Would you lean into… Well yeah you would lean into discernment when shit gets hard.

BB: Yes. Yes. Yes, so for example, today playing pickleball.

BG: Oh! [chuckle]

BB: No, I’m not kidding.

BG: I didn’t play today, so I can’t wait to hear about it.

BB: Yeah. So it was me and Andrew, against Lindsey and Steve. So, separated married couples.

BG: [chuckle] That’s always the best way to do it.

BB: Yeah, and I would say the match score ended up being fairly uneven, but we did pickle them once so that counts as four games. So it ended up being…

BG: [laughter] I didn’t use mine…

BB: Pickle is like, we beat them something-0, 11-0. If you don’t know what pickleball is, it’s like tennis but on a smaller court with a plastic ball and it’s my… Pickleball is one of my values. [laughter] But you know… So you’re standing at this… They’re standing at this line up against the net, and dinking is when you’re doing a soft game. You’re just doing it barely over the net, barely over the net, and you’re waiting for… Pickleball is all about forcing someone to make a mistake so you can kill the ball, so you can slam the ball. And so, I was dinking and I just kept saying, “Discernment, discernment.” And so, instead of going, “Well, that’s a little bit high.” Boom, let me kill it, and it going into the net, I was trying to be discerning. And so… But discernment is a huge thing for me, but dammit. And curiosity is I think a super power of mine. But when it comes down to brass tacks, like it or not, it comes down to faith and courage for me. Because, I think faith fuels my belief that I can be discerning and it’ll make a difference.

BB: Even when I pray for discernment, I say, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things… ” I usually say, “God grant me serenity to accept the shit I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom and grace of discernment.”

BG: That’s powerful.

BB: Which one is which? Which is stuff I… And even with curiosity, I’m curious because of my faith because… And my courage. It takes courage to be curious for me, because I have a tendency to be valued for being a knower. And so, I need to be brave and say, “I don’t know, I’m interested. Tell me more.” And then I think for me, I guess it’s just vulnerability is also probably a big value of mine. So I guess what I’m saying is for everybody listening, you may think, “Well, courage is the root of everything.” But it’s not true because for some people, curiosity, that courage may be really important to them, but where that’s forged is in curiosity. For me, my stuff is forged in courage. My stuff is forged in my faith. I don’t want it to be.

BG: And I’m going to say, if you use this example of dinking outside of the kitchen and pickleball, mine definitely is courage. I’m like, “Courage to be patient, patient, patient, patient,” because I just want to hit the ball hard.

BB: Yeah.

BG: And so I’m like, it takes courage for me and probably growth [chuckle] to be patient.

BB: Yeah. Yeah, it’s really true. It’s… So I hope what we’re illustrating for you is that…

BG: It’s not easy.

BB: It’s not easy to pick your values and you may want to revisit after you do, but just think about the power of just talking about this.

BG: Mm-hmm.

BB: And I have to figure out what my faith means to me too. I have to figure out… For me, when it comes to faith, it’s about mystery and believing things I can’t see all the time because I’m such a data person. So you’re going to pick your two values, value one and two in no order. Then we’re going to go to the second part. And I love this part. This is called taking values from bullshit to behavior. And the reason I call it this is because I do so much work in organizations where they have values. They have posters. They have handouts. They have shit that people have thumbtacked to their cubicles. And when I ask people, “Well, what does that look like?” Behaviorally, if you work for me, I’ll know that your behaviors are aligned with those organizational values how. And people are like, “I don’t know. There’s just the… We memorize these and then we’re told to memorize them in onboarding. I don’t know what they mean.”

BG: It’s crazy.

BB: It’s crazy. And so we found in our research, and again, this is going on 11 years of research in organizations, somewhere around 10% of organizations that we’ve worked with, and I’m talking about a lot of the Fortune 100 companies, about 10% have operationalized their values into observable behaviors that people are actually taught and held accountable for. Very few. So that’s like what I always say, I tell people all the time when I’m doing the Dare to Lead work. I’m like, “If I see another poster with a big bald eagle on it that says like integrity.”


BB: What does that mean? Like, fly fast and catch shit with your claws. I don’t know what it means. And so we want to take it from gauzy bullshit words to behaviors.

BG: Okay. Before you go into this part of the exercise, go back to the professional versus personal values.

BB: Yeah. So we do this a lot in organizations and people will always raise their hand and say, “Hey, Brené, should I be listing my personal values or my professional values?” And whoa. Yikes. We only have one set. And the problem arises when we feel like we have to splinter ourselves and have a set of values for who we really are, and then a set of values at work. Because one of the most ferocious, unseen drivers of disengagement at work is a values… There’s no alignment in my values and the organization’s values. That almost is not fixable.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah. So we have one set of values. So the next question is, we’re going to look at each value. So starting with your first value, Barrett we’ll take growth for you. And we’ll just do one of them.

BG: Okay.

BB: And y’all can do them at home. What are one or two behaviors that support your value? Specific observable behaviors of growth.

BG: I think for sure, when I ask questions, I am really… I never have to be the knower. I always like to be the learner. So one very specific behavior is when I’m asking questions, when I’m like, “Hey, hold on. Slow down. I really don’t understand where we’re going.” Or, “Can you say it in a different way because I’m not tracking?” So, asking questions for one. And then I think another specific behavior for me is when things feel really hard and dicey, no matter personal or professional, if I can take five minutes to myself and just think about, “What’s actually happening here? Why am I reacting this way?” That’s interesting, both questions. I’m asking myself questions or I’m asking other people questions.

BB: Yeah. This is so beautiful because… Let me go back to… But what’s driving those questions for you is not curiosity. What’s driving those questions for you is growth. That’s what makes you come alive.

BG: Yeah, I think so.

BB: Yeah. And I’m staying away from courage for both of us because we talk so much about courage in our work. Okay, so for me, a couple of behaviors that support my value of… Oh, fuck. I have to talk about faith. Okay, sorry.


BG: That’s one sentence that you won’t hear a lot.

BB: Yeah.

BG: Maybe you will. [laughter]

BB: If you’re a member of the the Episcopal Church, you will. But, yeah. What are one or two behaviors that support my value of faith? God, I don’t know. I’m going to say this, we’re not going to edit this out because this is… This is good modeling, blah, blah, blah.


BB: I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ve been engaged in behaviors that… I’m going to go… I’m going to take us on the wildest non sequitur. Are you ready?

BG: Yeah, ready.

BB: I’m going to take you on a ride. Ready? Strap yourselves in.


BB: Just put your seatbelts on. I think I’ve been struggling with this a lot because in the AA Big Book, one of the most important things to me in the Big Book is the promise of neutrality, that if you work your program… And it’s a deeply spiritual program. It’s a deeply faithful program. If you work your program, whether you believe in God or not, it doesn’t… That’s… I have a lot of friends who work a deeply faithful spiritual program that don’t believe in God. But if you work your program, you experience the gift of neutrality where you’re neither running as fast as you can toward the beer, nor are you running away from the beer as fast as you can. And I’ve had deep neutrality probably six months into my sobriety around alcohol. Now, the bread basket is a different situation. The bread basket. So, in order for me to have… Or work, like too much work, in order to have the gift of neutrality… It’s interesting. Do you know what the prerequisite is?

BG: What?

BB: You have to be in fit spiritual condition.

BG: Damn.

BB: Yeah. And so I think for me, the way I think about my faith is that I think about the behaviors that support my value of faith are the behaviors that support being in fit spiritual condition. And I actually think that that is moving my body, resting my body, and play. But, I also think there’s a relationship for me with God that I’ve really been negligent around, so I think I have been actually out of alignment… I’m having a real time epiphany. I think I have been out of fit spiritual condition, and I think I’ve been out of alignment with my faith value more than I am in other times in my life. And I think it’s because I’m grappling with ways to do that that don’t involve church. I still love church, but I only like to go to church so I can sing. I like to pass the peace. I love the peace be with you.

BG: Also with you.

BB: And yeah, I like to go to the communion and be at the rail with people, because it reminds me that there’s something bigger than us. But yeah. So I think I’m out of alignment a little bit. So let’s go to the second question, what are one or two slippery behaviors that are outside of your value of growth?

BG: I think definitely when I turn into the knower, which isn’t often, but when I get really caught up in having to know the answers instead of just listening. It’s very specifically what I’m planning to say back to you… In a conversation, I’m working on what I’m going to say back to you instead of listening. That’s a specific behavior.

BB: You are on fire, Barret. Yeah, and she’s so deep in her value of growth right now. If you could see her, it’s tattooed across her forehead. You just see it when you see you. But, I love the specificity of that behavior. Because, it almost ties back to James Clear of the James Clear podcast, like your values are identity-based. When you find yourself planning what you’re going to say instead of listening, you’re not a growth person.

BG: No, you’re not.

BB: That’s so good. Is there another one you can think of?

BG: You’re kind of just an asshole. [laughter]

BB: No, but you’re… Maybe, I don’t know if you’re an asshole but you’re… You’re probably thinking of me when you say that. [laughter]

BG: No, I’m not. I was thinking of a very specific situation for me but I think it’s…

BB: I’m trying to win, because I’m afraid.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah.

BG: And sometimes you’re just so far in. For me, it’s terrible. Sometimes you’re so far into the conversation that you can’t just say, “Yeah, you know what, you’re right.” [laughter] For four weeks.

BB: We’re not wired that… That’s genetically incompatible with our wiring.

BG: Yeah, so part of me, very specifically, a behavior that I’m working on in growth is holding people accountable within a couple of hours of something happening. And so for me, an indicator light would be, if I very specifically make up reasons where I don’t have to communicate or see that person for three days, [chuckle] then I’m outside my two-hour window.

BB: So we talk about the language of indicator lights. What are the indicator lights? I think it’s on the next page, but what are the indicators lights? Yeah, I love that.

BG: Yeah.

BB: So there is a meeting and someone that reports to you…

BG: Even at home, or even…

BB: Something hurt your feelings.

BG: Yeah, even like us. Something hurt my feelings, or I even showed up in a way that was shitty that I wanted to circle back for. But, because it’s going to be hard, I’m like, “Oh okay. Well, I’m not feeling too good, I should probably stay home for the rest of the weekend.” You know or…

BB: Yes…

BG: Because it’s easier… It’s actually not easier, but in the second you think it’s easier to avoid than to jump right in, so that’s definitely an indicator light for me.


BB: Okay, I’m going to ask… I’m going to write down something because I want to ask you about it in a minute, hold on.

BG: Oh boy. [chuckle]

BB: Don’t look. Okay. What… And one thing I was going to say to you, what are behaviors that support my value of faith? I will tell you that one of the biggest ones… I was just thinking about the last real moment of electrifying faith. Where I felt like my feet were planted into the earth and connected to every person that has ever walked the earth before me, and that my hands were shooting lightning bolts and connecting to everyone in the whole world.

BG: Do tell. [chuckle]

BB: Yeah, no, was the last time I met with Diana, my therapist, who is also a deeply spiritual person. And, we were talking about something and I said, “Can I tell a weird story?” And then I told this weird story and she goes, “That’s so crazy. There was an article that I wanted to send you about that very person.” And I said, “Oh my God, that person. I just shot you an email, have you seen it yet? Yesterday.” And it was all these wild connections. But I was like, “Is this so weird what’s happening?” And she’s like, “No, there’s nothing weird about what’s happening right now.” And so, I guess one of the behaviors that supports my value… Why are you shaking your head so radically? Because you see me when I’m in that.

BG: Yeah, I totally see you in… Yes, I totally do.

BB: Yeah. It’s weird when it happens.

BG: Yeah.

BB: So I guess I would say, and this is hard, this might make me cry, one of the behaviors that supports my value is when I believe myself. Let me just say that whole sentence, because it might be big for me. One of the behaviors that supports my value of faith is when I believe myself before I can find evidence or data.

BG: Yeah, yes.

BB: Do you know what I mean? Yeah, that’s good. Okay. The slippery behaviors that are outside of my value is… I know what drives it, is certainty and fear drive the behaviors that are outside of my values. I have to be in a… And I don’t think it’s an accident that that therapy session with Diana, when that happened, I don’t think that’s an accident that that happened after I’d been off for two weeks and I was open to it. And I think my receptors are out of whack right now.

BG: Yeah, I… They would have to be.

BB: Yeah, it’s just disastrous.

BG: You’ve had no space. There’s like no place to connect to yourself.

BB: Yeah, yeah, so a slippery behavior outside of my value is certainty, as Diana said to me 10 years ago, that’s really sad.


BB: I just want to let you know that there was a seven-year hiatus in between this therapy. It wasn’t straight through, okay. Don’t get cocky if you’re listening. I remember I was saying, “But I need to do this,” and she goes, “Wow, it’s like you live by that saying, let go and let Brené.”

BG: She said it again?

BB: Yeah, no, no, this was seven years ago.

BG: Okay, I got it.


BB: No, and so how can I hear God and be connected to God and be connected to my faith when it’s like… “And Brené’s will will be done. My timing.” And so…

BG: Because you have to let go a little.

BB: Yeah, I think when we’re talking about this question of what are the slippery behaviors that are outside your value, I think back to the podcast that we did with Dr. Sarah Lewis who, God, we love, right?

BG: She’s amazing.

BB: She’s just amazing. And the concept of surrender, which I just had… Ooh, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I think… Do they with you too? Do you have that word?

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah, I don’t like it. It’s like give up. But Sarah has this quote that’s so beautiful. She writes, “There is no way to measure surrender’s impact. We know its efficacy when we see it. After the deep pain of coming close or failures of all kinds, we break open enough to contain, invite and triumph over more.” And so what Sarah Lewis taught me is that surrender is not about giving up, it’s about giving over. And I think about… Like, I have the Me-Ma box. You know, our grandma, we called Me-Ma, and we had this old box that has Me-Ma’s picture on the top of it, and sometimes I just write what is scaring me or what’s giving me pain or… And I just fold it and give it over. And so I think my slippery behavior is when I get into the let go and let Brené, instead of giving over.

BG: Love it.

BB: So what is an example? This is the last question on this. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into your value?

BG: Well, most recently, I think a big change at work, and I think it was all about asking some really hard questions to myself, asking some really hard questions in some meetings, that I felt like really in my value of growth.

BB: I love that. I was there. [laughter]

BG: I know you were. [laughter]

BB: I saw it. It was magic. Man, is there nothing more miraculous than to see someone really living into their value?

BG: Yeah, it’s amazing.

BB: It’s incredible. Oh man, let me tell you, I’ve done this with Ellen and Charlie.

BG: Oh, really?

BB: Yeah, and who knows what their values are going to be when they’re not 22 and 16, but it’s helpful. Like you’re driving home from something and you feel like crap, and you’re like, “Man, did I show up in my values?” And if the answer is yes, you can be like, “Yeah, I did. It was just hard. It was just crappy.”

BG: How old do you think… Do you think I could do it? Mine’s 11?

BB: I think you could if it was framed in the way that these may change over the course of your life, that it doesn’t have to be forever, but right now in your life, when you kind of look at this list, what are 15 words that are important to you about who you are, and then what are the couple where these have to be in place for everything else to happen. I think it’d be… Yeah, and I think it’s just you have to make it developmentally appropriate and exploratory, not, this is it.

BG: Yeah, totally. Oh that’s… Okay. I have to go now.


BB: Okay, so next question. Who is someone who knows your values and supports your efforts to live… Oh! And I will just tell you, I forgot mine, my when I know I’m in my values. I’m so excited right now about recommitting to being in spiritual fit condition and protecting that time, because that electricity is the fuel for everything I do in my life, my research, my work, my parenting, my partnership. I’m really glad we had a talk about it. I didn’t… Maybe it was supposed to happen that way.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah, there you go. So when was the last time that I was in my value of faith is talking to you right now about faith, even though I didn’t want to. It would have been much easier to go courage because I have a lot of examples of when I’m brave in hard times because it’s just part of my work. But I think I need both in equal measure. Alright, who is someone who knows your values and supports your efforts to live into them?

BG: You.

BB: I love you.

BG: I love you back.

BB: You’re, yeah, you are too. You are someone… Yeah.

BG: And also you are like… You’re outside your values right now a little bit.

BB: Yeah.

BG: So both.

BB: Yeah. So, I’m going to ask you a hard question and you can ask me if you want to but you don’t have to.

BG: Okay.

BB: What do you think drives the decisions and behaviors that I engage in that move me away from my value of faith the most?

BG: To be honest with you, and you’re just like I have not had any time to prep for this question, but I would just say when you’re in overload with work and you don’t have any space. Because for me, it’s like… I could be wrong, but the story that I make up about it is that you’re really aligned in your value of faith, when you have space, when you’re creating, when you’re thinking about what the future holds for you, for your family, for the organization, but when you’re in the weeds and you’re like way too much shit on your plate and you can’t stay connected to yourself, that is when I think that you can fall outside.

BB: I think that’s true. That’s really insightful. Thank you.

BG: You’re welcome. Okay, I’m not asking.

BB: That’s great.


BG: Well what do you think? What do you think or when do you think I’m outside of my value of growth?

BB: I’ll be really honest with you, probably for the past couple of years, I haven’t seen you outside of your growth value very much at work. I think, caveat at work. [laughter] No, I think, and when I think you are, you circle back so quick. It’s just like, “Hey, you know what? Instead of asking more about that, I got really shitty and so I’m overwhelmed or something.” But I haven’t seen you. I think in your personal life, control.

BG: You don’t know me. [laughter]

BB: Yeah, control that in order for me to grow in this area, I’m going to have to let go of some control.

BG: It’s hot. [laughter]

BB: We all get really red and all… We [laughter] get uncomfortable. Yeah, no, I think, yeah, control. But I think it’s interesting because…

BG: It’s true.

BB: It is true, but I think I’m in the weeds of things I shouldn’t be in the weeds of at work out of control and fear.

BG: Yeah. Well times, they are changing.

BB: Yeah times are changing. Yeah.

BG: That was a good hard question. I’m glad you asked first.

BB: Yeah. I think, because I wonder if in the end, for all of us, as you’re thinking about your own values and you’re thinking about what drives a lot of the behaviors that get in the way of you being aligned, I think for all of us, it’s going to come down to vulnerability and uncertainty and control and fear. It’s going to come down to armor and self-protection.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah.

BG: I was telling Gabby, we were talking. I don’t know how we got on the subject of the Enneagram and she hasn’t taken it, obviously she’s 11, although we might soon, but and I was telling her I was a six and I was like, “Oh that’s a worrier.” And we were talking about it, I was like, “But the most integrated sixes are the most courageous.” I was like, “So it’s like, that’s what I’m working towards.”

BB: Yeah, that’s, yeah. Isn’t that incredible? Like in the Enneagram world, which we’re just saying that we don’t know the validity and reliability, we’ve looked at a lot of the…

BG: And the memes are, if the memes hurt your feelings, you got it right. [laughter]

BB: I thought you were going to say don’t worry, because they’re not valid or reliable. [laughter]

BG: I’ll say, then you got the right number.

BB: I’ll say the other part. We don’t know about the, look, I don’t know about the reliability and validity of the instrument. I know that some scales are better than others, but I also have a lot of questions about the Big Five in psychology, which are reputed to be stellar. I just don’t know. I think you take all that stuff with a grain of salt, but I will say it’s been helpful for us.

BG: Yeah, totally.

BB: Yeah, and I do love how that fear is a big thing for sixes, but when they start integrating and doing the work and examining and growing, that they become the bravest of all of us.

BG: But how I got there was the control thing, because the six just craves control of the situation, and I’ve got some issues around control. I won’t lie. Is that a value? Can we add that control to the list?

BB: Yeah right, control. I’d like to pick control as my primary value. I know a lot of CEOs. [laughter] Yeah. My two values, command and control. [laughter]

BG: Well let’s not work there, guys.

BB: Yeah, no work there. Alright, what does support from me look… Because I’m your person here. What does support from me look like around your value of growth?

BG: I think just holding me accountable and when you see me slipping outside of that, call me out on it, and I think you do in a very nice loving way.

BB: I would say the same. I would just say accountability is what it looks like. Accountability and a lot of times you always say there’s nothing wrong, I think we say it to each other actually, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not broken. Everything is okay, and you’re great, and this is a hard time. You know, I think we say that to each other, and Ashley usually leads the way.

BG: [chuckle] She sure does.

BB: The therapist sister. Okay, so what can you do as an act of self-compassion to support yourself in the hard work of living into your values? Both of them.

BG: I don’t know that I would have ever named this as something I could do for myself until now, but oh man, doing my personal work has been the most life-changing thing I’ve ever, the most life-changing gift I have ever given myself or my family.

BB: I would say 100% the same.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah. I would say I want to live in a country that has secured voting rights for all people, and that everyone has access to good mental healthcare. That’s how you save democracy.

BG: Yeah, sign me up.

BB: Yeah. Okay, and crush white supremacy and the patriarchy.

BG: Yeah.

BB: But I think if everyone had mental healthcare, I don’t know if it would work or not, but I think the two are inextricably connected. Yeah, back to the command and control thing.

BG: Jeez, yes.

BB: Okay. This was our values. This is good, right? This is harder… It’s always harder than I think it’s going to be when we have these conversations.

BG: I know, me too. Oh, we’ve done this values exercise before, but always go a step deeper on the podcast because it’s just us.

BB: It’s just, yeah, it’s just you and me in this little blue room, but yeah, I really appreciate you doing it with me. It was really…

BG: It was fun.

BB: It was… Exhibited both growth and courage.

BG: Oh, thank you. And yours, I love your epiphany around faith. It’s so important.

BB: Epiphany around faith.



BB: I really like that. No, it is really important and I’m excited. I will say that I’m making changes.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Wait, when is this going to be recorded? When is this going to go out?

BG: This is going to go out next Wednesday.

BB: Oh good. Well…

BG: Just in time.

BB: If you’re listening to the podcast, you’ll know that I have indeed been working hard to make changes to get re-aligned with my values. Alright, download the PDF. It’ll be on the home page of Scroll down past the picture of me looking serious talking into the mic in my little camo jacket, and then half way down, you’ll see the PDF for this episode. You can listen, do the exercise, go back if you want to.

BB: The other thing is, hey man, do this with a sibling, a friend, a group of friends, your book club. Do this, and let me just tell you this, if you decide to do this with a group of people, more than just two, one of the neat things you can do is, and we do this when we do it in… For our… With teams. We do this with our own team. We do this when we do organizational work outside of our company, is we get one of those poster Post-It notes, it’s kind of like 8 x 12 or 11 x 17, and we write everyone’s name at the top, and then after we’re done with this, everyone writes one thing that they’ve observed like, “This is Barrett, I can see you in your value of growth when you,” and then everyone has this take home sheet, and I have to tell you just… I know this is… I can’t compartmentalize Dare to Lead and Unlocking Us because they’re just about being human, but when we do this in families, if you’ve got older kids, when we do this at work, when we do this in teams, when we do this with our pickleball partners or tennis partners or sports teams, imagine working with people for years and years and years and never knowing what their values are. Imagine doing this, could you guess what your partner’s values are? Maybe, maybe not.

BG: Yeah.

BB: You know, it’s a real way of sharing ourself with each other that has some guard rails, has some container building built into it and can be powerful.

BG: Mm-hmm.


BB: Okay, thank you again for the conversation B.

BG: Yeah, it was good.

BB: It was so good. Thank y’all. We’re glad to be back. We’re glad to be with you again. If January isn’t awkward, brave, and kind month, I don’t know what is. And hey, I have to also mention while we’re here with everybody, the support for Atlas of the Heart.

BG: Yes.

BB: I mean, just number one, every week over and over, it was, I just… I can’t even believe it. So thank you, and I would love to see in social if there’s something you think you’d like us to do around it. There’s something big coming up in a couple of months. Well, in February, we’re going to release the audio of Atlas and I’m reading it. Sorry that it didn’t launch at the same time, but I wanted to make sure I read it, and I just couldn’t do it because I was creating space [laughter] for my value.

BG: Or just dragging behind us getting through the end of the year.

BB: Yeah I just, yeah, yeah, but actually I said no to it.

BG: Yeah, you did.

BB: I actually couldn’t… I did. I said it, I want to take credit for that because I actually said, “I can’t do that in a way that’s meaningful to me, and I think it’ll hurt me and my family and myself, so I just, too much.” Yeah. So thank you. We’re back. We’re going to be back with Dare to Lead as well, and just grateful you’re here.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Stay awkward, brave, and kind.


BB: Unlocking Us is a Spotify original from Parcast. It’s hosted by me, Brené Brown. It’s produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden, and Tristan McNeil, and by Weird Lucy Productions. Sound design by Tristan McNeil and music is by the amazing Carrie Rodriguez and the amazing Gina Chavez.


© 2022 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2022, January 26). Brené and Barrett on Living Into Our Values. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Parcast Network.

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