People who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect, have compassion with kindness, for themselves and others, as well as connections with others based on authenticity. It requires a full, sometimes embarrassing, show of vulnerability. Vulnerability is not comfortable, but necessary … the willingness to do something without knowing the outcome … willingness to say “I love you” first without knowing if it will be reciprocated … willingness to be real about our vulnerability.
Many of us run from vulnerability. We struggle to not show our “weakness”. Our suppression of reality shows up with the credit-card fix, overeating, drug addiction, and polarization of our politics and religion. We look for simple right/wrong answers and want to blame someone else for our fears. We try to control reality. We measure ourselves by how much money we make, or the next promotion. We try to be perfect and try to raise our children to be perfect. It doesn’t work.
We have many clients who have been successful in the first half of their careers by hiding their vulnerability. Many do not realize that authentic leadership requires more and more vulnerability for the last half of their career.
I spent half of my life in that shame place of thinking my work and results were who I was. If others knew my weaknesses or if I fell short … I would not be lovable. When I finally did the “shameful” act of going to counseling, I told my counselor that my childhood was OK and that I needed more concrete discussion. After three sessions with no progress … I had a breakthrough. It changed my life dramatically for the better.
Dr. Brené Brown had a somewhat similar experience. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. The short version of the story is shared in her TED Talk on vulnerability.
The video has over five million views on Youtube.com which indicates there are many of use who need to hear her message. I hope you enjoy it and personally benefit.