Book Summary: Rising Strong

Death, taxes, and failure are three things that come to mind. Those are the three things that will undoubtedly happen to you if you seek to achieve greatness in your career and life.

You are almost guaranteed to fail, and you are almost certain to fail many times and in many different ways. Perhaps you'll disappoint a key customer. Perhaps you'll make a blunder with a critical personnel problem. Maybe that new project you started will take off like a rocket. I could go on and on.

So, if we're all bound to fail in some manner as people trying to make a difference in the world, why are we so poor at coping with the emotions that come with it?

With this overview of Rising Strong, we'll look at that issue. Over the next 10 minutes, accompany us to discuss what to do when we fail and how to rise back up stronger than before.

The Rules of Engagement for Rising Strong

A painter putting out his creative skills to create something game changing.

You've undoubtedly seen or heard Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech before, but it's worth repeating:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; ...who at best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."

Brown derived the basic principles of emotional physics from this quote: simple but profound facts that help us understand why bravery is transformational.

These are the ground rules for rising strong.

  1. The physics of vulnerability dictates that if we are bold enough, we will fall. There are more spectators than players for a reason: it's difficult to compete in the arena. Being in the ring entails accepting the risk of failure.
  2. We can never return after we have fallen in the cause of bravery. You can't go back to being a spectator after you've immersed yourself in the game. The emotional framework of our being is transformed by courage. We understand what it means to show up and play, as well as what it means to merely watch.
  3. No one but you is responsible for this voyage; nevertheless, no one has completed it alone. We need to find people who can assist and walk alongside us on the road.
  4. We're born with a need to be immersed in a tale. Hearing an account — which we describe as a narrative with a beginning, middle, and conclusion — triggers our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin, according to neuroeconomist Paul Zak. These are the molecules that allow us to connect, empathize, and make sense as humans. I'll go into more detail on tales later.
  5. Creativity embeds information for it to be practiced. "Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle," says the Asaro tribe from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They're saying that we genuinely learn when we put our knowledge into practice through an act of creativity.
  6. Whether you're dealing with personal or professional difficulties, the procedure is the same. Your emotions manifest themselves in both your personal and professional lives, and you can't completely deal with them in one while ignoring them in the other.
  7. Fear and shortage are the causes of comparative pain. Failure causes self-doubt, self-trust, and even a sense of worthiness. In those instances, we frequently compare our difficulties to those of others in similar situations. This is a normal part of the process, and having compassion and empathy for oneself at these times is crucial.
  8. An emotional, risky, and brave process cannot be reduced to a simple, one-size-fits-all formula. When coping with difficult emotions, such as falling down, the outcome might take minutes or years.
  9. Courage spreads like a virus. Whether you realize it or not, your experience will have a significant impact on others around you. Bravery breeds courage in others as well as in yourself.
  10. It is a spiritual discipline to rise strong. As Brown reminds out, there is no need for religion or dogma to get back on your feet. However, it is a spiritual activity because we are all linked by a power larger than ourselves.

The Problem: Gold Plating Grit

A male experiencing business failure, as the money graphs crashes.

Brown claims that one of the things holding us back - as a culture - is our propensity to "gold plate grit." This simply implies that we accept that failure is a positive experience while ignoring the pain, anxiety, and uncertainty that it may bring.

We enjoy hearing about individuals rising back up after being knocked down. Steve Jobs being fired from Apple and then returning to salvage the company is a fantastic example. But we don't spend nearly enough time discussing the real emotional costs of failure.

Like every other unsuccessful individual in history, Steve Jobs had to struggle through difficult feelings like desperation, shame, and terror. You, too, share this sentiment.

As Brown points out, the true badasses aren't the ones who overlook the terrible consequences of failure. The real badasses are those who fall down, get back up, and declare, "Damn. That hurt a lot, but I'm going in again because this is essential to me."

The 3 Stages Of Dealing With Your Failures

There isn't a step-by-step guide for dealing with failure, but there is one you can take.

Stage 1: The Reckoning

Reckoning is the first stage. Here, we identify the emotions that come with failure and become interested in impacting our thinking and behavior.

It's important to note that this is the polar opposite of ignoring and refusing to discuss these feelings, which most of us are prone to do.

How do you know when you're experiencing these feelings?

You'll tend to feel a knot in your gut, desire to devour an entire box of Oreos in one sitting or want to beat your fist against a stone wall. Or maybe they're all doing it at the same time.

If you're feeling this way, it's a good sign that you should pay attention to what's happening.

According to studies, most people are not particularly adept at properly recognizing the emotions they are experiencing at any one time. The good news is that we don't need to pinpoint our emotions precisely; all we need to do is acknowledge that we are experiencing them.

Then you need to start looking into what's going on and why it's happening.

Stage 2: The Rumble

A female writing and figuring a tale so that she can deal with failures appropriately.

The "Rumble" is the second stage, in which we confront the narratives we make up about ourselves as a result of our fight.

For example, when we fail, a typical tale we tell ourselves is that "I'm not good enough."

That may be accurate in certain cases, but most of the time, this is a self-defense mechanism designed to save us from being harmed again. After all, what's the point of getting up and trying again when we're not good enough?

The rumbling is all about figuring out what tale you're making up so you can deal with it appropriately.

Brown proposes that we take the next step and write it down using the six basic phrases in the form below.

  1. The story I'm fabricating is as follows:
  2. My feelings:
  3. My physical self:
  4. My thoughts:
  5. My opinions:
  6. My behaviors:

The most important part of the process, according to Brown, is simply getting it down on paper. It doesn't have to be flawless.

We can cope now that we've got it down. In this step, we'll ask ourselves some easy questions.

  • What else must I know and comprehend about the situation?
  • What more must I discover and grasp about the other characters in the story?
  • What else must I understand and realize about myself?

The process will almost certainly teach us that there is a distinction between what we make up about our experiences and reality. This is where you'll find the most important lessons and knowledge.

Stage 3: The Revolution

"The Revolution" is the name of the third and final stage. This is where, as Brown shows, we develop a short conclusion to the tale. A narrative about getting up off the mat, brushing yourself off, and changing your perspective on life in a good, life-affirming way.

This final stage takes a great deal of bravery since you're exposing yourself to the one thing your nature is hard-wired to avoid: being crushed again.

This is a revolutionary transformation, as Brown points out because it radically alters our thinking and beliefs. Rumbling with our story and owning it to write a different, incredibly brave ending transforms our relationship with the world.

How to Rumble with Criticism

A close team member motivating his colleague that she is courageous and will succeed in her next try.

Let's take a look at a specific circumstance that you'll almost surely encounter if you're attempting to achieve anything remotely game-changing in your business or life: being criticized by others. Especially those in the cheap seats that are watching the game.

How you respond to this criticism — how you wrestle with it — will greatly influence your life's direction.

When it comes to coping with criticism, there are three traps we might fall into.

  1. We begin by playing small. When we are chastised, our natural instinct is to want to prevent it from happening again. We do everything it takes to make ourselves a smaller target. In the process, we tear away everything that gives us the power and bravery to achieve greatness.
  2. Second, we use the "I don't give a damn what other people think" defense. This is a game we can't win, as Brown points out. Whether you like it or not, you are programmed to be concerned about what other people think.
  3. Finally, we fall into the trap of eradicating all forms of criticism from our life. This is like tossing the baby out with the bathwater because intelligent and constructive criticism is really beneficial, particularly to individuals striving to achieve greatness.

Brown's answer is to be quite clear about whose opinions are truly important. Take a one-inch-by-one-inch bit of paper and jot down the names of the people who mean the most to you right now. You should tighten up the list if you feel tempted to cheat by expanding the amount of the paper.

These are the individuals who should love you despite your flaws and vulnerabilities, not because of them. These are the folks who will be there for you when you fail (did I mention it's almost certain?), affirm that it's terrible that you failed, and then kindly remind you that you're a courageous badass about to enter the ring again.

That, in a nutshell, is the greatest gift you could give yourself.

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