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Digital Seminar

Vulnerability, Courage, Shame, and Empathy | Rising Strong

33 Minutes
Audio and Video
Oct 01, 2015
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar


Lesson Objectives

  • Identify 1-2 potential barriers to engagement in the course and begin to develop strategies to deal with those barriers with a permission slip exercise.
  • Explore the ten primary vulnerabilities associated with falling and the related rising strategies.
  • Examine why we are neurobiologically wired for story and how understanding the basic structure of a story aids us in our own rising process.
  • Choose a story of struggle to explore in this course and use as a learning tool.

Reading Assignment - Rising Strong

  • Note on Research 
  • Introduction 
  • Chapters 1, 2, and 3   

Lesson: Physics of Vulnerability

The Man in the Arena

“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 at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …”

- Theodore Roosevelt


Exercise: Permission Slips

This is a great time to revisit the concept of permission slips. Now that we've worked our way through Daring Greatly, you have a better sense of what you might need to finish strong!  Add to your existing permission slips or start a new stack. 

And just a reminder: You're welcome to write more than one permission slip.

01. What do you need to give yourself permission to do, feel, or not do? 


Exercise: The Physics of Vulnerability

The Physics of Vulnerability Guiding Principles

  • If I am brave enough, often enough, I will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability. 
  • Once I fall in the service of being brave, I can never go back.
  • This journey belongs to no one but me; however, no one successfully goes it alone. 
  • I’m wired for story.
  • Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. I move what I’m learning from my head to my heart through my hands.
  • Rising strong is the same process whether I’m navigating personal or professional struggles. 
  • Comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity. 
  • I can’t engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into an easy, one-size-fits-all formula. 
  • Courage is contagious. 
  • Rising strong is a spiritual practice.

Most of us have a reaction to one or two of these guiding principles (e.g., I'm not good at this or this makes me uncomfortable or I don't have any experience with this). Pick two of the following ten principles above that will provide you with a good opportunity to stretch and grow. 

Physics of Vulnerability stretch Principle #1: What is the challenge and opportunity for you? 

Physics of Vulnerability Stretch Principle #2: What is the challenge and opportunity for you?

Now that you've identified these challenges, it may be a great time to revisit the permission slips! Is there anything you need to add?


Exercise: The Story Acts

The Three Acts of a Story


Act 1


The character faces or is confronted by a challenge and accepts that challenge. The rules of the world are established, and the end of Act 1 is the “inciting incident.”


Act 2


The character looks for every comfortable way to solve the problem. By the climax, s/he learns what it’s really going to take to solve the problem. This act includes the lowest of the low.


Act 3


The character needs to prove s/he has learned the lesson, usually showing a willingness to prove this at all costs. This is all about redemption—an enlightened character knowing what to do to resolve a conflict.


Choose a favorite story from a movie, TV show, book, or fable.


Act 1: Describe the challenge that your character faces


01. How do they first respond to the challenge? 


02. Does the character deny the problem? Blame someone else? Avoid the issue? Look for an easy answer? Fall apart? Shut down? Get angry?


A note on ground rules:
Story ground rules can be really simple and they're normally so subtle in movies and books that we don't even realize that we've been told the rules. For example, in the Lake Travis story in Rising Strong, the ground rules are: 1. We committed to exercising on the vacation and that made me a little nervous, 2. Lake Travis is a special place to me, and 3. We were both competitive swimmers at one point.


Ground rules give you a sense of place, time, what's normal, what's expected, background, etc. Later, when we start digging into our falls, these become very important. 


Another example: Harry Potter opens with Harry being mistreated by his "muggle" or non-magic relatives. He lives in a closet. This just seems like details but the storyteller wants you to know right off the bat that there's a division between magic and non-magic people and that Harry is alone in the world and has no support or love.


Storytellers mostly want to "show vs. tell" so they paint an early picture to orient you and give you context. One way to think about the question is this: What is the set-up? What does the storyteller want you to know before we get into the plot?


Pick a few ground rules that were established


01. What is the inciting incident (their "face down" moment)? 


02. What happens that forces the character to finally turn toward the problem and face the challenge?


Act 2:


01. What comfortable ways does your character look for to solve the problem?


02. Using the story rumble glossary, name the experiences and/or emotions that s/he needs to rumble with in order to really solve the problem. 


03. What is an example of your character's lowest of the low?


04. What story do you think your character is making up or telling himself or herself about what's happening?


Act 3:


01. What role did vulnerability play in your character's growth and learning? 


02. If the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure - how did your character face and handle these experiences?


03. How was s/he called to go into the arena?


04. What courage did you see in his/her vulnerability?


05. Identify one or two values that drive and inspire your main character.


06. How are those values the same/ different than the values that drive and inspire you? 


Exercise: Identify Your Fall

“When we deny our stories, they define us; when we own our stories, we get to write the ending”

Brené Brown


Pick a story of struggle that you want to explore.


01. What was your fall or "face down" in the arena moment?  

Remember, a fall can be a small moment, a painful conversation, a big failure, or a growing disappointment. The important thing is to be specific. Capture the moment in detail. Also, be sure to only talk about the moment of your fall - don’t try to figure out the ending.


* Credit Note - ***CE Details Can Be Found Under Module 1: Lesson 1



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