Alyssa Jada McDonald-Baertl: Courage vs. Certainty, how compassion means more than perfection. Lessons from a chocolate company.

Alyssa Jade McDonald-Baertl held an inspiring speech named Courage vs. Certainty. Her first words: “I would like to ask you not to tweet or make notes.” That was very uncommon for an event that thrived on live blogging and tweeting.  It was unfortunate for those who couldn’t attend the talk, but then again it was actually quite relaxing. It gave us the chance to really listen without the constant urge to think about “How could I put this into 140 characters?”

The story Alyssa Jade McDonald-Baertl was about to tell was about herself and the ups and downs of her chocolate company called Blyss. She started with a deep insight into her childhood, how she grew up on a farm in Papua New Guinea and how her family moved to Australia to adapt to the industrial lifestyle. Her struggle with the family traditions and the wish to be part of the modern world lead her to a different path than her family probably wanted. It was a lot about fitting in, to comply with the rules of society and a lot about profit and luxury. Due to many encounters with loss and tragedy she finally struck a new path and founded Blyss. She still tried to fulfill the expectations made by society and thought being successful meant to be part of the elite. After becoming insolvent two times and being almost ruined, she changed course.

Some of her life-changing lessons were the following:

1.       We are in great fear of being rejected. Everyone. We try to numb those bad feelings. But we can’t just exclude these feelings without affecting our good feelings, too. We can’t be fearless and passionate on the same time.  By numbing our feelings we’re losing our purpose and that is not what we should want to achieve.

2.       We can’t truly connect with others without revealing ourselves including our fears and weakness. We have to bare our vulnerability for the purpose of building a sincere relationship with each other.

3.       Don’t say you are certain everything is going to be perfect. You can never be a hundred percent sure of anything. Instead of saying: “I can do everything that you’d like me to do.” say what you really can do and what you actually can’t. Stand up for your weakness as well as your strength; people will appreciate your honesty.

The only slide everyone photographed at the end - 10 Part to living whole from Brene Brown

The only slide everyone photographed at the end – 10 Part to living whole from Brene Brown

A lot of those principles were originally from the academic vulnerability studies from Dr Brene Brown, but drawing the parallels with her own experiences made them even truer. It was unfortunate that only a few people could take away those inspiring life lessons but it was still worth it. And the best part: We got to try her chocolate.

written by Lea Pfeiffer (@_LeaPfeiffer)

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