September 4, 2015
Being vulnerable in your work or life circumstances does not necessarily make you less powerful as a leader or pitifully helpless as a friend and mentor. In reality, being vulnerable can serve as a real strength in decision making and in relationship dynamics.
As the ringing in my ears subsides from the great shouts of laughter and jeers of boisterous disagreement, allow me to share the stronger side of vulnerability, as an asset in one’s strength of character.
Vulnerable, adjective, derived from the Latin word, “to wound”
- capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
- open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
- (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
Our natural instincts generally lend themselves to protecting and defending against physical, mental, and emotional attacks and wounds (especially those derived from relationship interactions). Given this fact, where does the power or strength in being vulnerable enter into the positive, powerful equation?
When we are vulnerable to others in a balanced and healthy way, this is usually because we know and trust our feelings and motives even though we might be wrestling with a few work or life issues.
Through this level of knowledge and trust, our vulnerability actually helps us to be more open, more receptive, more accepting, and more available to listen to the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and reasoning of others. In all, this scenario sets the stage for a few amazingly promising dynamics:
- The opportunity to learn from one another: my way is not the only way to success or to a solution. Perhaps our collective ideas will lead to a brand new and different solution than any of us realized before we joined our minds through the vulnerability of one. Vulnerability in one often reveals the wisdom in everyone.
- The opportunity to listen to one another: so often we are each thinking about what we want to say next, even while others are speaking. Even worse, we might be developing our argument in opposition to what is being said. This prevents us from being open-minded and respectful toward others – and is often the source of misunderstanding. It certainly deters the positive impacts of vulnerability, like effective communications, having the best interest of others at heart, and affirming the value of each person’s ideas. Vulnerability in one often reveals the respect level in everyone.
- The opportunity for conflict resolution: unresolved disagreements, suppressed frustrations, and rigid opposing opinions are best resolved through proactive and open communications. Conflict resolution is a tough sell in a world filled with overbearing attitudes and opinions. It is far easier to use authority to squash conflict, rather than taking the time to communicate respectfully. Seeking outcomes that provide mutual benefit to all is the greater leadership challenge. Vulnerability in one often reveals the level of wisdom and common sense in everyone.
Bringing it All Together
Vulnerability is a strong character trait, often revealed in turbulent times of personal and professional conflict or struggles with the issues of life.
The very presence of vulnerability reveals a deep level of trust and confidence – a willingness to risk what is commonly protected for selfish motives and benefits.
Contrary to popular opinion and practices, vulnerability has the strength and power to reveal the hidden thoughts and motives of everyone involved in a matter. For truly, vulnerability lays bare the age-old truth that when we are weak, it is then that we are actually strong.
Where is the true source of your most prized strength and power? Is it in your commands and demands; in your criticism and blame? Or is it in your most uncomfortable moments of vulnerability?
May I dare suggest that some of our most powerfully effective moments in leadership and in life are when we are most open to being wounded and defeated? For truly, everything is not always as it appears to the natural eye.
Connect with me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s do life together – touching others with joy.
Living in the Joy of Life,