Author Brené Brown Speaks On 23 Years Of Sobriety For Glassdoor Series

By Lindsey Weedston 10/17/19

“I can’t separate anything powerful or good in my life from my sobriety,” Brown said.

Author Brené Brown
Author Brené Brown Photo via Wikimedia Commons/BbeargTeam

Author and presenter of one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, Brené Brown, spoke on vulnerability and sobriety as the first interviewee for Glassdoor’s new career podcast In Pursuit.

Brown’s TED Talk, titled “The Power of Vulnerability,” has been viewed over 44 million times, putting it in the top five most popular talks and launching Brown into an unexpected level of fame. She has since written several books including her latest, Dare to Lead, and starred in one of Netflix’s first stand-alone talk specials, The Call to Courage.

Exploring Vulnerability

Brown is also a research professor at the University of Houston and has been sober for 23 years. During a seven-year study looking into what makes for good leaders and what are the biggest barriers to courage, Brown realized that a fear of vulnerability was holding leaders, and herself, back.

“But in interviewing all of these folks who I thought were such brave leaders, they said, ‘I’m afraid every day. I’m afraid all day long,’” she said to host Amy Elisa Jackson, Glassdoor’s editorial director. “It’s not fear that gets in the way of courageous leadership, it’s armor. It’s how we self-protect.”

That was good news for Brown, who described herself as a “recovering armored person.”

She Credits Her Family For Her Sobriety

Brown credited her sobriety for everything good that has happened to her in the past 23 years, saying it gave her the strength to keep showing up when things got hard, including with her own family.

“I can’t separate anything powerful or good in my life from my sobriety,” she said. “Whether it’s being able to look at my kids—and I’ve got a daughter who’s 20 now, a son who’s 14—and be proud of the way that I’m raising them to [hold] onto a marriage.”

“That’s because I just have built a practice of not tapping out with beer, with taking care of other people, with numbing.”

Thankfully, Brown quit drinking early after discovering the extensive alcohol addiction history in her family tree. She was able to recognize just how much she enjoyed drinking and partying and made the conscious decision to embrace sobriety.

Now, 23 years later, she still uses her 12-step program on a daily basis.

“Working the program and kind of doing these fearless inventories of kind of who I am and how I tap out of pain, and how I cause other people pain because I’m not willing to be clear because I don’t want to be disliked or disappoint people,” Brown explained. “That was the real work and that’s everyday work for me.”

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at Twitter: