Do you share your shame?
Some of you have maybe heard me share my story about my grandfather, Banarsi Das Saraf who was a freedom fighter during the Quit movement in India.
He fought alongside Mahatma Gandhi against the British, trying to get back India’s independence. He didn’t know if he was going to be successful, but he was always fighting to do the right thing. Eventually when he got out India gained independence.
My dad used to spend time with his grandfather riding around on his bicycle with his grandfather sitting on the handlebars. So one day when my dad was 12 and he had just finished reading Gandhi’s autobiography in which he shares a really personal shameful moment. And my dad turns to his father and says, “I don’t get it. Why would Gandhi these share this really embarrassing woman for the whole world to read about forever?”
It’s documented, he can’t get it back. Why would he share this really shameful moment? My grandfather trusted my father and said, “because that’s the point son, when you go through life’s hard lessons, you have a responsibility to share it so that other people can learn from you.”
Living in shame is really hard. It is takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. Bernay Brown. Who’s my hero. Did her TEDx talk on what is shame and shame is something that we all experience we all want to run away from, but what we can live with it and be at peace with it and stand in front of it and stand in it. That’s where power is. That’s where our courage comes in. I know for me to be able to own up to what I did to plead guilty, to call over 200 people in my life to ask for people’s support, to show up every single day, whenever I speak on stages or not virtually for, for corporations and clients and universities, it takes a lot of courage to live in my shame of having made some bad decisions, but that vulnerability has given me the freedom to be, to be true to myself, have to be authentic, to live with courage to live.
I tell my friends and family, I had to lose my freedom to truly understand and gain complete freedom because being transparent every single moment, every single day is like, it’s such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have to hide from people about my prison sentence. I don’t have to hide from people about the mistakes that I’ve made even now. Right? Cause I’m still an imperfect being. I tell my children when I’ve made a mistake, if I’ve maybe punished one or spoken to harshly to one on a specific moment in a specific moment, because maybe I was agitated or I was stressed or I was nervous or upset about something. I’m the first person that’s going to go and apologize to my son for having said something or to my daughter for having blood. Not because I think that that’s what they have to learn from us.
They have to learn that it’s okay to be wrong. If you acknowledge it, own it, apologize for it and then learn from it and hopefully do better next time. So live in shame. It’s really hard, but we all have those moments. And when you can share those shameful moments and be vulnerable and help others through those lessons, through those stories, that’s the purpose of life is to help each other out, to learn from our humanity, to keep growing together. And I tell my kids learn something new every day. And when you can be in shame and live in vulnerability, that’s half the battle to really get into the point where we can be role models for our kids.