Vulnerability Can Lead to Success

Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose. - Brene Brown

Even just speaking the word “vulnerable” can feel uncomfortable to some people. But what many people don’t know is that openness and sincerity can help us in our personal lives as well as our professional endeavors.

Vulnerability can seem like a scary thing, but it can lead to our greatest strengths. Last year some well-respected, big and strong athletes set the tone by revealing a more vulnerable side of themselves when they admitted to struggling with anxiety, depression and grief. This simple recognition of weakness has turned out to be a significant strength in their lives because instead of hiding challenges, they moved past them.

Vulnerability isn’t about gaining sympathy. It’s about recognizing what you are experiencing as a normal part of life. Remember, we are all human. By acknowledging our own humanness, we recognize the humanness in others… and give others permission to be “human” with us.

Here are some inspiring benefits that many people find from practicing vulnerability:

Vulnerability fosters intimacy. People who are reticent to be vulnerable in aspects of their lives tend to be surrounded by walls. While these walls are probably meant to protect from “bad” things, they also naturally keep out many things like intimacy, closeness, tenderness, affection, trust, and mutual respect. Vulnerability breaks down walls and allows for a deeper development of connection and relationship. 

Vulnerability incites compassion. When we live in a place of vulnerability, we are actively tearing down judgment and criticism within ourselves. As we grow in sharing pieces of ourselves with others, a natural occurrence is that we become more understanding and compassionate toward the pain and fear of others. We begin to show empathy and sympathy, consideration and concern toward those who are also vulnerable. This benefits us personally and also advances efforts toward living in a more functional and supportive community.

Vulnerability raises accountability. Although individuals do have the power to make changes on their own, it can be much more effective when support from others is woven in. When we share with others about our weaknesses, and the changes we want to make in our lives, they can synergistically provide us with encouragement and assistance that we may not be able to muster on our own. Our passion and success can be increased as we receive help and accountability from others.

Vulnerability builds trust. Whether in the workplace, dating or other types of relationships, authenticity fosters trust. Brené Brown, professor at the University of Houston, speaks about having “the courage to be imperfect.” When we dig deep and reveal more of ourselves to others, it creates a sense of belonging that ultimately fosters trust. This is especially true when those who are leaders reveal more of their humanity—admitting that they make mistakes actually results in more trust from others.

Vulnerability increases creativity. A willingness to be open and vulnerable can provide a freedom for creativity that may have been stifled in the past. Vulnerability allows us to push past fear of judgment and into a zone of innovation and imagination that we cannot experience if we are constantly measuring ourselves and our performance.

As you live your life today, consider what ways you may have walls built around you that keep you from living up to the most potential. Look toward ways that you can tear down walls, live more openly and dive more deeply into the heart of success.

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