A Conversation with Dr. Sarah E. Brown
Dr. Brown is the Best Selling Author of Let Your Personality Be Your Career Guide and The Road to Success (co-written with Jack Canfield), the Creator of The Book of You™, and a highly sought after Speaker and Coach.
Last week, Dusty Staub, best selling author of The 7 Acts of Courage, spoke with Dr. Sarah E. Brown, who revealed the secret to finding fulfillment and offering the world your best.
This is their conversation…
Dusty: Thank you so much for talking with me today Sarah. Could you tell our readers a bit about you, your work, and service in the world?
Dr. Brown: I help people understand their unique personality and how to use those insights to be more effective—to be happier, successful, and understood. My primary means for doing so is by writing a completely personalized book for each person.
The reader takes a world-renowned personality assessment. With the data from that instrument, I then write a book all about the reader, with information about him or her and some suggestions customized for that unique individual. The insights generated from the personalized The Book of You™ help the reader to minimize stress while maximizing success. It is like getting a personal coach in a book!
I have over thirty years of experience working in corporate America, including over 20 years of organization development and talent management work. I made extensive use of this powerful assessment tool as part of my organization development work.
In my last role as Managing Director at Accenture, I noticed a whole bevy of clients, mostly women, who were in the wrong jobs or not being able to play and work at their best. They were simply miserable.
They knew they were unhappy, but they could not tell me what would make them happier.
I was deeply moved at the individual pain and the collective cost to self-esteem and effectiveness. Then I noticed some people who were getting out of the rut. The critical difference for those few was that they were working with coaches. The coaching process evidently helped the participant to see her unique strengths, increased self-awareness and then provided action steps to act on that awareness. This was powerful.
Of course, hiring a good coach is costly and doesn’t appeal to everyone. I wondered how I could help people who either could not afford a personal coach or who simply didn’t like the idea of working with one.
Reflecting on the power of The Birkman Method® tool I had been using, I began to see how I could embed the coaching process in a book based on this powerful assessment tool. The Book of You™ was the result.
It is a series of books, each one addressing a unique situation, like finding the right career, improving an existing job, or improving a significant relationship. Each book is, of course, unique to the reader with specific suggestions on what the reader can do to improve happiness and success, while minimizing stress in that situation.
Future books will address other situations like managing money or increasing health and fitness. In each book, we address the individual’s interests, strengths, and needs as they relate to that situation. I have found that the needs assessment is the critical missing piece for most people and also what is missing in many other assessments.
Dusty: What is your relationship to Courage?
Dr. Brown: My work with others is focused on the Courage to see Current Reality and then the Courage to Act on that awareness. These are also the Acts of Courage that I’ve most needed to develop. There have been times in my life when I could SEE Current Reality, but failed to ACCEPT it. As a result, I couldn’t let go of my resentments about it.
We are only free to ACT in a direction that will help us fulfill our dreams if we can accept the truth of the current reality and let go of the past.
In my case, poor habitual thinking patterns had trapped me in a vicious cycle of looking at what IS and saying it should not be that way. My boss should not have talked with me that way. I should have received that promotion. I should be earning more money.
There is no power in that thinking – the thinking of “Shoulds”.
It clouded my own assessment of reality as well as my ability to Act. I was where I was. I have the job I currently have. I have the boss I currently have. End of discussion.
I had to develop acceptance and then let go of my resentments and negative thinking about that and move on. The operating question then became, “how can I use my strengths and my current reality to further my dream?”
I also had to face a lot of fears. Fear that I will fail financially. Fear that I will make a fool of myself. And, it turns out that my dream – my “why” – is so much bigger than my old patterns of fear-based thinking. You cannot have both love and fear in the same place; they do not coexist.
I want to make a major impact on the economic and social empowerment of women. In fact, in my work I refer to the typical woman I serve as “Susan.” When I focus on my mission to help women, I find that feelings of love and service towards them simply cannot coexist with the old, self-limiting patterns of fear-based thinking I once entertained.
Dusty: Where do you feel courage is most needed today?
Dr. Brown: I feel that women in particular need the Courage to See Current Reality, the Courage to Learn and Grow and then the Courage to Act. These three courageous acts will then help women to find the Courage to Confront, to Be Confronted, and to Be Vulnerable, and to know when it is appropriate for each.
The Book of You™ creates real self-awareness around interests, strengths, and real motivational needs. Strengths are often things we are not aware of, and our needs are often hidden from others – sometimes even ourselves. When women access these Acts of Courage then they also find it is easier to access the courage to let things go.
They are able to release and step away from the limitations of the past, from old patterns of self-limiting description, perceiving and being. Letting go is what creates renewal.
For example: I have an inherent need to think long and hard about major decisions, particulary if finances are involved. Just recognizing that allows me to create an environment that minimizes my level of stress. Then I am more able to act on what I want by making use of my interests and strengths in service to others.
Another example: I was working with an Executive Director at a not-for-profit. She took the book to her board and basically outlined the insight, “Here is how to get the best from me and what I need from you to be able to best serve this organization.” She was empowered by being able to articulate her needs, interests and strengths. It gave her a way to move forward with more power and less stress. The organization’s performance improved and she reported feeling more at ease and graceful in the process.
Dusty: How do you feel when you exercise courage – when did you most need courage?
Dr. Brown: The benefit for me is always fear relief. My level of anxiety is diminished, and I begin to get more excited about what I could create. I have more confidence in going after my dreams.
For example, I used to be terrified of public speaking. To face that fear and move through it, I relied on my unique personality, my needs and my strengths. I am not someone who is motivated by large groups of people, so it worked best for me to turn every speaking event into a specific task to be accomplished in pursuit of my mission to empower women economically and socially. I have specific ways that I prepare that are in line with my unique personality as well. This makes the process more enjoyable for me and also lessens my anxiety.
My recent TEDxTalk was a task in “service to Susan.”
I over prepared and that fit me so well. Preparing my TEDxTalk – What My Job Taught Me About Finding a Romantic Relationship – required structure, preparation and lots of practice. These are all elements that play well to my unique personality. Although I was still very nervous as I walked onto the stage and began to speak, after about 30 seconds, I was in the flow and in the “task of being in service to Susan.”
I simply memorized the opening lines and was prepared to be anxious, knowing the feelings would subside since I was in service to something much more important than how I might be feeling in the moment. My mission is bigger than any of my fears. There are at least two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) women I want to reach. And I am good at task accomplishment. I just need to make sure they are the right tasks.
Dusty: What is your best advice to others in this moment?
Dr. Brown: As they tell you at the beginning of a flight, “Put your own mask on before you assist others.” You need to know what is inside of you – your needs, interests, strengths and how they interact – or you cannot bring your best to the world.
For a limited time, Dr. Brown is offering a free Relationship Quick Test. Sign up to get yours.
Find out more about The Book of You™.
Dr. Sarah Brown can be contacted at: Sarah@bookofyou.com