The Hustle for Worthiness

Dr. Brené Brown went viral! Her Ted talk on Vulnerability is worth the 20 minutes and 20 seconds it takes to watch, I promise you. There are few times that a youtube video actually can be life changing. This is one of those times.

Dr. Brown’s background is as a researcher, writer, and professor. Her discipline is social work, her passion is studying a concept she calls “wholeheartedness.” Check out what close to a 100,000 folks have witnessed to date. Here’s the link.

Sounds like Dr. Brown could work in Jesuit higher education. She has a keen understanding of cura personalis; the importance of educating the whole person. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on shame and fear, two concepts that usually end conversations rather than begin them. After reviewing some of her work, it’s clear that her interest in wholeheartedness is important in re-visiting how we use/teach student development theory. In her seven year research quest, Dr. Brene Brown simply proposed two questions:

  1. How do we cultivate a life defined by authenticity, love and belonging, joy and gratitude, and a resilient spirit?
  2. What gets in the way?

I suggest this is a perfect way to understand Jesuit student leadership education.

I had the privilege last night of welcoming student leaders, faculty, and staff to the 29th Annual Student Leadership Awards ceremony. It was magnificent to look out at the audience and see the current and future change agents among us! Truly the nominated student leaders live out the values of Loyola everyday. We highlight these values: Dignity, Excellence, Compassion, Inclusiveness, and Wholeness on the walls of the Danna Student Center. These words epitomize the intentions and behaviors of the students we honored last night; both on campus with their organizations and programs; and too, off campus in service to others.

When I looked out over the audience last night, I was struck by wonderful “mix” of students—from all corners of the campus. It’s clear that everyone present last night had a story to tell about where they came from; where they are; and where their hopes and dreams are found.

Dr. Brown describes it this way: Our lives are a collection of stories—truths about who we are, what we believe, what we come from, how we struggle, and how we are strong. When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging.

Student leaders…give yourselves a standing ovation!

For more information on Dr. Brown’s DVD, The Hustle for Worthiness, and her other works, visit her website.