Vulnerability is a tough concept. Maybe vulnerability is something you haven’t given much thought about, but are pretty sure it is something to be avoided. The Cambridge English Dictionary says vulnerability is to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked. I don’t know about you, but I am not thrilled with the idea of being “hurt, influenced, or attacked”. I can be such a wimp.
However, there are two sides to everything. Let’s turn this around and look at vulnerability as a tool. Yes, being vulnerable can be uncomfortable. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Worrying about what people might think is uncomfortable. Being perceived as weak or submissive is a huge risk in our over-achieving “get ahead” society. But, having the ability to open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable can have some positive results. Understanding the value of vulnerability in making human connections is important. Consider who is more authentic to you, the boss who is cool, distant, and “all business”, OR the boss who remembers to ask how your sick child is doing or admits when THEY messed up at work? Do you resonate more with someone who sheds a tear and shows some emotion, or someone who hides their emotions? Vulnerability researcher and author Brené Brown, in her 2012 TED Talk, states that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity. In cultures where failure is not an option, neither is innovation.” In other words, some of our best work is going to come out of being open and taking risks!
My hero, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” To me, that means opening myself up to the risk of failing, of being rejected, criticized, or of looking foolish. Even just being my authentic self is not without risk sometimes. But, if I do not allow myself to be vulnerable, what might I be MISSING? I might miss meeting a great new connection because I was afraid they’d say no if I approached them for coffee. I might miss out on a new project to tackle because I was hesitant to volunteer. I might miss out on learning something new because I was afraid to admit that I didn’t know how to do it and needed help. I might miss out on helping someone else or just brightening their day because I was hesitant to ask how they were doing.
This week, challenge yourself to be vulnerable to new conversations, opportunities, and people. Walk across that room and say “Hi!”. Give that idea or opinion you’ve been hesitant to share. Ask for that raise. Be willing to do something where there are no guarantees. Dare to be open. Dare to be yourself. Dare to be a little more vulnerable.