Have you ever watched, in awe of, others that seem to have strong relationships, aren’t afraid to take risks, have a great capacity for compassion and just seem to have a strong sense of self? These same people always seem authentic to me. They are who they are, imperfections and all and are OK with it.
A few months ago, a friend of mine posted the video you see here from Ted.com. It was a presentation given by Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston on The Power of Vulnerability. I watched it and was taken aback by the lesson she was sharing. I won’t go into the details of the lecture, but I do encourage you to watch the 20 minute clip. The main theme centered on the fact that, as humans, the ability to feel connection is why were are here, but this cannot be accomplished unless one embraces their vulnerability.
This really struck me. In my own life I have worked hard, especially in my professional life, to put up this exterior of perfection. In doing so I avoid pushing too far outside of my comfort zone and typically pull back and tackle the things that I am certain I can accomplish. My thinking was that if I strung enough of these “sure thing” accomplishments together, then I would be seen as successful and worthy of praise and engagement. What I really found is that I increasingly avoid risks and encase myself in a “safe” bubble where my growth becomes stifled and I feel a sense of unworthiness or that I don’t belong.
Until seeing Professor Brown’s lecture, it hadn’t dawned on me that I had been numbing my vulnerability slowly over time. I also realized that I had been doing this in my personal life and was slowly driving away my closest relationships. Since this awakening of sorts, I have made a concerted effort to:
- Embrace my vulnerabilities at work and in my personal relationships
- Love even though there is no guarantee
- Practice gratitude and joy – rather than over analyzing everything
- Believe that I am enough
I haven’t been perfect at this, because it can be a scary thing to put oneself out there opening up to shame, fear and to openly struggle with one’s sense of worthiness. But as Professor Brown put it, I have also opened myself up to more happiness, inspiration and creativity that have pushed me to taking some risks that have led to some new successes at work and an increase sense of belonging and love. Even my relationship with my wife has grown stronger by multiple factors during this time.
Those people who seem to have this figured out truly seem to be authentic, successful, and empathetic, which leads them to deeper personal connections.
Are you able to embrace your vulnerabilities? How do you do it? How has it impacted your career and personal life? I know for me, it has set me free from my safety bubble!