This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #146 with research professor and author Dr. Brené Brown, in which she explains why caring less what others think of you will change you life.


Michael Gervais: Can I run a concept by you and just see what you think about it?

Brené Brown: Totally.

Michael Gervais: Okay, so you’ve heard of FOMO, fear of missing out.

Brené Brown: Yeah.

Michael Gervais: You heard of YOLO.

Brené Brown: Totally.

Michael Gervais: You only live once.

Brené Brown: Oh yeah.

Michael Gervais: I want to introduce one and I’m wondering, I’d like to hear what you think about it, so FOPO.

Brené Brown: Shoot.

Michael Gervais: Yeah, FOPO, fear of people’s opinion.

Brené Brown: Oh yeah.

Michael Gervais: I think it’s one of the greatest cripplers of potential. We play it safe and we play it small because we’re afraid of what will happen on the other side of the critique, of the exposure that happens when people have the opportunity to say thumbs up or thumbs down. I’m wondering what you think about FOPO.

Brené Brown: Oh, I think it’s real. I think it’s alive. I think it’s super scary right now because a lot of my work is, the epigraph of my work I think for the last probably five years has been the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “It’s not the critic who counts.”

Michael Gervais: The man in the arena, yes, so good, isn’t it, yeah. It’s so good.

Brené Brown: Yeah it’s so good. It’s like it’s not the critic who counts, it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done it better. The credit belongs to the person who’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly who comes up short again and again and again and who in the end, while he may know the triumph of high achievement, at least when he fails, he does so daring greatly. FOPO to me is exactly about the cheap seat feedback, like there are so many people in the world today that will never step foot in the arena. They will never ever show up and be seen and heard because they can’t control the outcome, yet they are so free with their opinion around other people’s real arena moments, people really stepping in and stepping up. I think we have to get to this place, where that FOPO that you’re talking about, we have to see that for what it is and it’s a life changer. I have interviewed people in their 70s and 80s that have such profound regret and sorrow and grief about the things they didn’t try, the chances they didn’t take that not saying, “I love you first,” because they had so much fear of what other people would think. I think it’s actually lethal. I think FOPO leads to addiction, depression, lethargy, hopelessness. It’s terrible. It’s a pandemic.


Listen to full podcast here.


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Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work.