Brené Brown Parenting: We will not participate in the race to nowhere

Jun 06, 2023
In an episode of "The Tim Ferriss Show," renowned researcher and professor Dr. Brené Brown shared valuable insights into how she parents her kids and guides them in their education. Her message holds particular significance for parents of teenagers looking to give the best advice as they grow into adulthood.
We wanted to explore how Dr. Brown's wisdom can empower parents and teens to resist societal pressures and focus on self-discovery to find their own path in a world that is often in too much of a rush that she calls 'a race to nowhere'. (clips are after each)

1. "We will not participate in the race to nowhere"
: Dr. Brown emphasizes the power of embracing our imperfections and being vulnerable. This notion can be liberating for teenagers who often face immense pressure to conform to societal standards of success, appearance, and behaviour. By accepting themselves for who they are, teens can cultivate self-compassion and build resilience against external judgments.

2. "We're not paying for it if you already know what you want to be": I know SO many parents that would just start twitching if they heard that. There is this belief that deciding what you want to do in this world is a race and that the one that gets there first wins. Please keep reading....

CLIP for 1 &2

TRANSCRIPT: "It was like my daughter when she went to high school. She's a junior now in college, but we sat down with her and said The number of AP courses that you'll take will be limited by your time. You won't go to bed past 10. You will not miss a single dance. You will do something every weekend with friends.

We will not participate in the race to nowhere. Like, you don't need to graduate with 40. And she's a super academic kid. And she's like, what? You know, I'm like, she's like, but I need to take this and I need to take this. I'm like, it's not gonna work that way. And then when she got to college, we were like, we're not paying for it if you already know what you wanna be, you're 18."

3. "You need to explore": Take every class that's interesting to you. Learn who you are. This of course is music to my ears. It's what ShineOn™ is all about and what my message is all about. Knowing who you are, better yet, actively participating in being curious to learn who you are is the name of the game if you're ever going to have a shot at making it, truly, authentically, genuinely and sincerely making it in this life. Feeling whole and complete means staying in alignment with that interior journey of exploration. It's only when you do that do you really learn who you are and what you're made of and what you're here to do. The world needs people that have come alive in themselves.

TRANSCRIPT: You need to explore. But you know, and she's like, that's so cringey mom. That's so, so cringey. Like everyone that freshman orientation knows exactly what they're gonna be, where they're gonna go to grad school. I'm like, that's great. That's not the way we work.

4. Take every class that's interesting to you. Learn who you are": Here Dr. Brown talks about how people end up going down a path that makes sense because they were smart that then after school is done end up depressed and hating what they do because they didn't really explore or know what opportunities are out there. It's so accurate for what I hear and experience in some sessions with young adults. They come home from earning their degrees and have absolutely no passion to pursue a career in that field. By then they are old enough to make their own decisions and their parents aren't really steering things any more so they end up feeling lost. Like a false start in life. Like a do-over. They then start to explore to learn who they are and what interests them and what they care about contributing to.

TRANSCRIPT: Take every class that's interesting to you. Mm-hmm. Learn who you are. Because if I had a dollar for every interview I did with a late 20, early 30 year old that got on the engineer, lawyer, doctor path, because that was the moving escalator for smart people who was depressed, hated what they did, never even knew that you could be a shoe designer or casting director or a microphone builder.

If I had a dollar for every one of those, like set for life. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

5. "Figure it out, nothing is wasted": Brené assures her daughter and tells Tim that knowing what you don't want to do, you get to save all the part in your thirties and forties where you hate work and you're drinking heavily. You get to save all that. I believe and agree with her here because we've all met those people who think they had that one shot back in their 20s and that now everything is about their obligations and responsibilities and they make life miserable for everyone around them and in the process behave as though they are doing the right thing for whatever reason.

Point here is it is a skill to stay in the game and keep figuring it out. The faster we teach this the more resilient and adaptable our young people will be. Having experiences to help us eliminate options is a good thing. It has got to stop being viewed as failing. There is a mental toughness that develops with each step you take in your journey. Remember there is no 'race'! We need to support and encourage the journey towards figuring it out. "Nothing is wasted" is an absolute truth.

Not to mention the price you pay by not following your dreams. You have to keep going, keep figuring it out and keep creating your life on purpose. That's what ShineOn™ is all about.   

TRANSCRIPT: She's like, as it turns out, I don't think I wanna do this and I don't wanna do that. And I'm like, super valuable. And she's like, no. Are you sure it's as valuable as knowing what you do wanna do? I'm like, oh yeah. Yeah. Knowing what you don't wanna do, you get to save all the part in your thirties and forties where you hate work, you're drinking heavily, you know, like you get to save a lot of that.

Like figure it out. Nothing's wasted.

6. "Go see the world": Wait tables... get a job. Having experiences. Pushing academic success over life experiences is a mistake. Plain and simple it is a mistake. Now, I'm going to share a bit of an extreme example but I'm hoping to drive home the point that having experiences is absolutely critical to how our teens and young adults find their way to their careers. I once met a parent who told me about their daughter who thought she wanted to be a Veterinary Doctor until a hard reality about that job hit her in 2nd year of University. She realize that she may be called to work with livestock (depending on where she would practice) and that euthanizing animals would be a necessary and routine part of her job. She had never even spent a day with a Veterinary Dr or a clinic. Not surprisingly, she dropped out and had to start the process over again because somewhere in her journey the practical side of asking if this role was right for her never came up. 

TRANSCRIPT: I was like, go see the world, get a job. Wait tables. Everyone I know is better at who's waiting tables is a Better human being. Yeah.

TRANSCRIPT: You need to get one job where you're serving the public. 


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In the Activate Now Podcast, Lucy takes you into her world as she gets curious about what it means to be fully activated in your life. Every episode is packed with interesting ideas, new strategies, relatable stories, practical guidance and the tools and encouragement you need to activate yourself into a better life.
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