Dare to Lead: hard-but-good reading

brene brown dare to lead sketchnote KLR

brene brown dare to lead sketchnote KLR

Recently in an Insta story I mentioned I was reading the book “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown, and said it was “hard but good”.

I had several messages almost instantly from a variety of people asking,

Why is it hard? 

Whenever that happens it’s an indicator to me that I’ve hit on something that people are curious about. An opportunity for learning – for me and for them. So of course it goes into the Notes!

Here’s what it means:

It challenges me in areas I’m weak.

A good-but-hard book points out some areas in which you need to grow. In my experience, the reason it’s good is you’ve already been mulling these over in some way, and your mind (and heart) have begun to open up to the possibilities. And the hard part is when you read it and think, “Oh. That inkling I had is more than just a little niggle – it’s for real, and it’s significant, and the consequences are serious either way. It could go very, very badly if I carry on with that path over there; and it can go incredibly well if I turn even slightly and go that direction or with that attitude or approach.”

It’s humbling. 

The word “humbled” or “humbling” is used so often in business (usually related to winning awards) that it begins to lose some of its power. It is a good word: but I try to be very careful with how and when I use it, because it’s not for flippant use. It’s not for when you are honoured or surprised – it’s for when you’ve been challenged and in a sense put in your place. You’ve realised your place in the grand scheme of things, and you’ve been radically honest with yourself about some things.

Humility isn’t thinking badly of yourself. It’s not putting yourself down. This book is humbling: but that doesn’t mean it makes me think I’m a terrible leader or point out all the areas I have to fix. It points out what I’m doing well, and where I can do better, and I have the opportunity to compare the two and be real.

There’s responsibility involved.

In the book, Brene tells a story of someone who comes up to her and says he is “excited” to practice vulnerability. She gets an instant “uh oh” in her spirit, and says if you feel like that, you likely don’t understand what’s involved.

But when someone says, I get it and I want to do this because I see what you’re saying and I need it and the world needs it, that’s when they’re in.

That’s how I feel about what’s in this book.

I’ve only recently (say, in the past year or two) come to realise my position as a ‘leader’ – in my own business, in the arena of our target audience (the accounting industry), and in the business world at large.

That realisation – for me anyway – was not an exciting, fired-up feeling. I wasn’t like “woohoo I’m a LEADER check me out!” It included (and still includes) some fear, some concern and curiosity, and a realisation of the massive responsibility this is. And some feelings of joy and enthusiasm, too. (Probably how people feel upon becoming a parent, I would imagine! You tell me, if you are one!)

There are real people, real feelings, real lives involved

As I talked to people about it, we wondered if it was an age thing – if someone in their 20s might read this and be thinking WOOHOO LETS LEAD WELL, whereas someone in their 40s or 50s is thinking something more like, Ok. I’ve seen what can happen when someone or when I myself get this wrong. It’s dangerous and can even be destructive. I’ve hurt people. I’ve hurt myself. So I’m so grateful for this topic but I must approach it seriously or else I’m being rather flippant, rather arrogant really.

But it’s not age. It’s mindset. Granted when I was in my 20s I would have been more WOOHOO and less measured. But I know older people who still have a sort of flippant-woohoo attitude, and younger ones who are willing to sit carefully and deeply with these topics, and give them the full attention and seriousness they deserve.

The more I’m invested in the lives of my team members, and our clients, the more amazed and honoured I am by their trust in me personally, and in this company. This is real stuff.

People aren’t just off for a morning, they’re getting a medical test that will tell them serious things about their health and future life.

Someone isn’t simply accepting a job offer, they’re re-evaluating their life and finances and what they love, and are trusting this company will help contribute to all those things being better.

An accountant isn’t just signing up for a course we run, or a workshop – they’re sharing  fears and concerns and past failures, and trusting us to help them triumph over these this time. To see results, to be inspired, to have a better firm because they’ve connected with us in this way.

This is why good leadership involves daring. Courage. Bravery.

Because it’s not just woohoo great topics LET’S DO THIS… it’s … *deep breath* let’s do this.

That’s what makes it good, and hard, at the same time.


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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon