When you think about achieving success and becoming your best self, vulnerability as a practice may not instantly spring to mind! Vulnerability often has negative undertones and can be associated with weakness, but dive deeper into the potential of this word, and you’ll discover a new route to success.
Vulnerability cultivates strength
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” - Brene Brown
Vulnerability is a feeling that’s associated with being exposed and nudged out of your comfort zone. It’s a feeling that can show up in all kinds of situations, including:
- Letting your guard down in a social situation even though you feel shy, anxious and exposed.
- Sharing a personal story with someone you want to feel deeply connected with because you want them to know your truth - even though you’re scared they’ll reject you.
- Playing the bigger game you feel called to start, even though you’re terrified you’ll fail and be judged for not being good enough.
- Having the courage to say you don’t know the answers - even when others expect you to.
- Finding the words to apologize or the strength to forgive - so that you can move on with your life.
As you can see from the examples above, vulnerability takes a LOT of courage and strength. The choice to be vulnerable requires you to put yourself ‘out there’ in ways that don’t feel uncomfortable. As humans, we crave security and certainty because we feel safe. If you can more or less predict what’s on the other side of a decision, there’s less chance of being unexpectedly hurt.
Vulnerability puts you on a collision course with a leap of faith.
But very often, that leap is exactly what you need to create the success you want because a choice to be vulnerable opens so many doors.
As Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Here’s what can happen you play in the playground of vulnerability.
1. Spark deep dive conversations
Your relationships are a perfect environment to not only practice being vulnerable but to reap the benefits of putting yourself out there.
Small talk is easy! The risk is pretty low when you’re talking about topics such as the weather, the latest football match, or weekend plans. The question is, do these conversations help you feel deeply connected to the person you’re talking with?
For sure, small talk is appropriate for certain interactions, but if you want to connect more deeply with an individual, you have to dive beyond the surface layers.
You have to take the risk and share your true self. You have to talk about your feelings, emotions, memories, and experiences rather than the ‘safe’ surface stuff. This can be uncomfortable. As social beings, we want to feel as though we belong. We fear rejection, criticism, and judgment - and that’s the risk these more vulnerable conversations pose.
But the upside is HUGE. When you share what’s deeper for you, you allow other people to get to know you on a whole different level. Remember, humans connect around stories, and sharing experiences is a powerful way to discover what you have in common. More in-depth conversations promote empathy and understanding - and that can lead to more collaboration over competition.
Deeper, more meaningful conversations are a powerful way to spark authentic social connections. This, in turn, builds the trust we feel with others and that helps us forge stronger social bonds.
Imagine the difference this level of connection could make to your relationships? Whether it’s deeper talk with your partner, family, children, work colleagues, or friends, you can feel more connected when you surrender to vulnerability and share who you really are.
2. Unlock creativity
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”- Brené Brown
Vulnerability also allows us to be less rigid in our character because it implies permission not to know all the answers and to not be perfect in every interaction. It’s easy to get funnelled into being a certain way because you feel that’s how you ‘should’ show up, and that’s what others expect of you.
Rigidity prevents you from exploring all of who you are and all the opportunities that exist in the world.
In comparison, vulnerability allows you to discover and express parts of your character and story that may have been hidden or even lay dormant. In this way, vulnerability can be a key that unlocks new ideas along with a willingness to take more risks - because you’re willing to take a chance.
In turn, this dials up your creativity because instead of stuffing down those uncomfortable, unproven ideas, you’re more willing to experiment and give them a go. Instead of writing ideas off because you may fail or make a mistake, vulnerability allows you to breathe them to life so you can see where they might lead.
And because creativity is a catalyst, there’s a strong possibility that playing in a vulnerable space will inspire you to discover the big idea that changes your life!
3. Try something new
Vulnerability is a sure-fire way to expand your comfort zone. When you embrace vulnerability, you’re able to put courage over comfort - and see where it takes you.
It’s so tempting to stay in our safe space, but it’s a choice that limits our life experiences. When our beliefs about who we think we are stay fixed, we write off a mass of opportunities because we tell ourselves we couldn’t possibly do that.
But what if you can?
Vulnerability gives you space and permission to rewrite who you are.
It opens the door to new skills, talents, connections, experiences, and ideas.
It allows you to do things that people wouldn’t expect - and in turn, you get to explore more of your potential and become your best self.
Tools for cultivating vulnerability
If you want to be more vulnerable, here are some tools and resources you may enjoy.
[Discovery Deck] Intimacy Deck - deep dive questions to explore with your partner.
[Workbook] 10 Deep Dive Questions That Spark Self-Discovery