Vulnerability is Key to Success

perspective Feb 09, 2023
The Power of Vulnerability: The Secret to Unlocking the Courage Within

When we think of vulnerability, chances are that we aren't thinking about it in a positive light. Instead, we view vulnerability as a weakness and something that should be avoided at all costs. However, research shows that vulnerability isn't something to be afraid of; instead, it can actually help us build meaningful relationships, bring out the best in others and help us become more resilient.

After years of studying what makes individuals successful, vulnerability always seems to be present in the highest performers. These individuals have this ability to expose themselves to new situations, open themselves up in conversation, and be fearless when stepping into the dark. Ultimately, all of these things center around a strong relationship with vulnerability, and I've taken up the task of laying it out so that you can use it, too.

What is vulnerability, exactly?

Vulnerability is the emotional state of being exposed to harm or risk. It is a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity that can arise when we feel exposed or have the potential of being hurt.

Vulnerability is a necessary part of the human experience. It's the root of self-discovery, authenticity, and personal growth. It allows us to be open to new experiences and to learn from our mistakes, and in this way, it leads to growth, courage, and enduring confidence.

"The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing; it's about the courage to show up when you can't predict or control the outcome." Brene Brown

Three ways being vulnerable can transform you positively.

  1. Building Trust. Being vulnerable allows us to build deeper connections with those around us. When we are vulnerable and open up about our feelings and experiences, we create a space for others to do the same. This can lead to stronger and more meaningful relationships.
  2. Revealing Your Authentic Self. Being vulnerable can help us to understand ourselves better. We can gain insight into our values and beliefs when we open up and share our innermost thoughts and feelings. We tap into our true authentic selves, learn to accept our imperfections, and become more confident in who we are.
  3. Developing Resilience. When we are open and honest about our feelings, fears, and emotions, we can better understand our reactions to stress and difficult situations. This knowledge can help us develop strategies to cope with stress and challenging situations and recognize when we need to take a break, set boundaries, take a step back, or seek help.
    The effects of vulnerability stretch far beyond just these three ways, but these are a great foundation to display the positive effects vulnerability can have.

Being vulnerable can be challenging and intimidating, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. To be vulnerable, try to open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with those around you. Allow yourself to be seen and heard, even if this means stepping outside your comfort zone. It's important to remember that vulnerability doesn't mean revealing every detail of your life to everyone. Instead, open up to those you feel comfortable and trust.

Simply put, vulnerability has been one of my greatest assets throughout my career. The wide-ranging impacts it can have are beneficial to anyone looking to make strides in their career, and it has been foundational in building my courage and confidence as a mother, co-worker, leader, and human being.

While many people feel as though confidence and vulnerability cannot mix, I have found the exact opposite to be true. It may seem paradoxical, but the strongest, most confident leaders are those who can open themselves up and reveal their authentic selves. As a result, they feel secure and respected and develop healthier relationships and environments.

Bonus Tip For Leaders:

If you are a leader in your workplace or are looking to become one, the importance of vulnerability cannot be understated. Gone are the days of hard-line, emotionless management. Not only does this lead to higher rates of burnout, but it also decreases well-being and productivity in the workplace. The best leaders nowadays are open about their weaknesses and strengths, fostering cultures of collaboration, innovation, and growth. In addition, vulnerable leaders boost morale and create a sense of team unity, as individuals feel supported and accepted. Here are four ways you can practice vulnerability as a leader starting today.

4 Tips for Becoming a Vulnerable Leader

  1. Open up to feedback. Let's face it…nobody likes being criticized. But if you don't ask your team for feedback, it doesn't mean their feelings will disappear. It means they will talk about you behind your back and foster resentment. To avoid this: ask your team members for honest feedback and take it constructively. You will become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses while showing that you are open to facing challenges. On top of all this, you signal positivity when you ask for feedback. You show that you care and that you want to build a space that is growth-minded. In setting the model and pace, your employees will follow suit.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings. As a leader, being vulnerable and expressing your feelings can be challenging. It's essential to take the time to recognize what you're feeling and why. This openness can help you gain insight into what motivates you, how to understand yourself and others better, and develop more meaningful relationships. Set healthy boundaries, take a step back, and call for a time-out if needed to take care of your feelings and emotions. When you show your team that it is ok to own and manage our emotions openly, you permit them to do the same.
  3. Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism can cause you to become overly focused on achieving a perfect outcome, leading to delays in decision-making, risk aversion, and a reluctance to take risks and experiment with new ideas. Perfectionism can also lead to burnout, as it is often impossible to achieve a perfect outcome. Instead, focus on progress, not perfection, and strive to achieve a high level of quality without sacrificing efficiency. By letting go of perfectionism, you can create an environment of growth and innovation that can help your team reach its goals.
  4. Take risks. When you take a risk as a leader, you put yourself out there and open yourself up to potential failure. This vulnerability can be intimidating, but it is important to realize that it is essential to being a successful leader. When you take risks and accept the potential outcome, you show courage and a willingness to learn from mistakes. This demonstrates to your team that you are open to trying new things and are willing to take risks to achieve success. By being vulnerable as a leader, you are creating an environment of trust and allowing your team to take their own risks.

"Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior." Brene Brown

I suggest you read Daring to Lead by Dr. Brene Brown and find ways to move from Armored Leadership to Daring Leadership.

Remember that as leaders, we are responsible for creating real belonging and a safe space for everyone, so vulnerability is not a privilege for a few people. Lead from your heart, and be the change, so you empower others to bring their best self to work and to this world.

Final Thoughts

I hope to have painted a clever picture of vulnerability today. It took me years to realize, but vulnerability has become one of the most essential traits when building my self-confidence and achieving my goals.

By no means does being vulnerable equate to being weak. In fact, the opposite is true. If you can display vulnerability in healthy, courageous ways, you will begin to grow in spaces you have never seen before. This is never an easy task, but through intentional practice and consistent attention, you can use vulnerability as a key tool in your success formula.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week!

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