Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I Learned at Blissdom

Opryland Hotel, Nashville

Oh sure, my weekend at Blissdom was full of meeting people and parties and such, but there were just a few little tidbits that I stuck in my pocket and kept for later. In fact, lots of information that I needed to read over and absorb once I came back.

There were two amazing keynote speeches at Blissdom--one opening and one closing (funny how that works). Never one to do things in the traditional manner, I'm going to tell you about the closing talk first.

Scott Stratten
Author of UnMarketing, Scott Stratten gave the closing keynote, and to say that guy was hilarious would be an understatement. Hi-lar-i-ous. He seriously should just take his show on the road. (Oh wait. He already did that.) Anyway, 30 side-splitting minutes later, here's what I gleaned from Scott:

Be awesome.

That's it. Just be awesome. Nobody wants to read "meh." Nobody spreads average.

People spread awesome. Awesomely great. Awesomely horrible. Awesomely sweet. Whatever is awesome, it will spread.

A few awesome posts are a whole lot better than a lot of posts that don't say anything.

Here's what I got from Scott's talk that I want to try to improve in my blog. I sometimes settle for the "meh." I sometimes fall into the old I-have-to-put-something-out-there trap and end up with an average post. What I need to do, instead, is to make each post as awesome as I can so that it's worth your time to be here.

Wow. That's humbling.

Brene Brown
Brene was the opening keynote speaker for Blissdom, and after hearing her talk I could have just gone home and been completely satisfied. I have about six pages of notes from her talk--my hand just could not keep up with all the wonderful bits of wisdom she shared with us.

It's going to be hard to distill everything down, but I'll try to categorize a few of the things she talked about.

1. We all have it, that thing inside of us that says "You are not enough."

2. Nobody wants to talk about it

3. The less we talk about it the more we have it.

Shame brings us down, destroys us. But the only thing shame can't survive is being spoken. WORDS destroy shame.

What do the lives of people look like who say "I am enough"? They are wholehearted lives. These are the people who say "I don't know who I am, I may not be perfect, but I'm going to go ahead and put this out there."

The wholehearted are people who believe in their own worthiness. See, most of us have developed a list of what makes us worthy: "If I do this, I might be good enough." But worthiness has no prerequisites. Worthiness says, "This is just me. It's all I have to offer--myself--and it is enough."

Most of us think vulnerability is related to fear and uncertainty, and it is, but when put into practice, vulnerability is related to courage and strength. (I loved that!) Vulnerability says "I am willing to feel and I'm willing to let myself be seen."

Vulnerability is the birthplace of
  • love
  • belonging
  • joy
  • gratitude
  • authenticity
  • innovation
  • creativity
We have to be careful with vulnerability, though, like we're walking a tightrope between not caring what people think and caring too much about what people think.

She summarized her thoughts this way:

1. Know your short list, those people whose opinions really matter to you. Your go-to people. The people who would do anything for you.

2. Know your boundaries. "Choose discomfort over resentment." This was huge to me because I am such a people-pleaser. I'll say yes to just about anything I can, but Brene's point is that if you are going to resent the thing you said yes to, it's not worth it. Say no now so you don't resent it later. (Lots to think about there!)

3. Know that you are enough. Ask for what you need. When we don't put value on our work, we end up resenting.

4. Our stories matter because we matter. "Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do." Blogging comes down to one thing: courage. Share the story of who you are with your whole heart.

My takeaway from Brene: I feel like I need to use this space to be braver, to tell stories that I haven't yet told, to be more vulnerable than I've allowed myself to be. This might be hard, but it might also help someone else in the process.

How about you? What story do you need to share with authenticity? What makes you awesome (besides just being here)? I'd love to know!



  1. Good stuff! I settle for the "meh" too. I think life is comprised of lots of "meh" flowing in and around the "un-meh." The trick is another look, and another look and yet another look at the "meh" to find what makes it share-worthy. It almost always IS, or could be, but I don't always have the TIME to invest in figuring out how or why, you know? I'm always asking myself, "what makes this story relatable?" I think that's what really AWESOME mom-bloggers are good at - we see ourselves in them. Their words often turn the key in a lock on our own thoughts and feelings. Which, now that I think about it, links Blissdom's opening message with its closing message.

  2. Great comment, Megan. I know what you mean about the time factor. And I love what you said about mom bloggers, how we see ourselves in the really good ones, which, I guess, is vulnerability. You've given me more to think about!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. I love the idea of not settling for less than awesome, and knowing your short list, and shooting for them.

  4. Wonderful summary of those two great talks, Shelly! Maybe I could get you to photocopy your notes and send them to me. :)

    I don't have Brene's book (yet), but I walked straight to the B&N booth and bought Scott Stratten's. That man is a genius. Or an UNgenius, maybe.

    As you work to be more vulnerable, remember those words to Joshua: "I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage. . . ."

    You go, girl!

  5. I listened to part of the opening talk on YouTube, and it WAS fabulous with lots about which to think! I very much enjoyed her thoughts on our culture and why we are losing the ability to be vulnerable.

    Being vulnerable sometimes feels like running naked through a crowded place with no where to hide.

    Creators feel like this all the time... whenever they share their creations, whether it is the written word, a song, an art piece... putting it "out there" gives people not only the opportunity to critique... but the license to do so... and they WILL... and there is fear in the creator's heart as they anticipate the response.

    I gotta go... feel a blog post coming on...

  6. I am so glad you were able to learn so much. I enjoyed Brene Brown's first book. I look forward to seeing what God is stirring up in you and how it will bless us that read your blog.

    Are you all set for the blizzard?


  7. Thanks so much for the kind words!

    I'm glad you're thinking about only posting "awesome" :) It works so much better for everyone.

    I had such a great time at Blissdom, they do an amazing job!

  8. Vulnerability is hard because you feel so, well, vulnerable. ;-)

    Sounds like you learned a lot!