Vulnerability is a hot topic these days. And well it should be. I’ve been speaking to the power of vulnerability with my clients for a long time. It is an absolute foundational core to building any trusting relationship, whether that be in business or in our personal lives.
I’m a strong advocate of creating environments where people feel safe to tell their stories. It is through the sharing of the nuances of our lives that we connect, bond and relate to others. Telling your story, and telling it true, requires a great degree of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the other half of truth.
All too often the unspoken half that waits in the wings yearning for it’s moment in the light.
Without the opportunity to honestly express where and how we feel vulnerable, we’re only having half the conversation, which never really gets to the heart of the matter.
Recently Brené Brown showed up on Ted Talks with a brilliant talk about how vulnerability is a keystone to developing deeper connections with others. I was so glad to see the topic get such resounding support as people clearly resonated with the truth of her message.
Yes! We’re coming to understand the power of being more vulnerable. Fantastic.
Now, I want to speak about something that can often be even more difficult to pull off…..
Beyond being vulnerable ourselves and accepting others when they’re vulnerable.
What’s really important is….
Inviting Vulnerability From Others.
Here’s what got me thinking about that and why it’s important.
Last night in our Men’s Group a powerful question was asked.
“What would you give your life for?”
The question took us all by surprise and we had to get a hold of just what was being asked. “What would you die for?” No, we recognized that that is a different question entirely. What would you GIVE your life for? It was tied more closely to the question, “What do you live for?” There was a nuance to “give your life for” that we couldn’t quite articulate. But each of us felt the question pierce directly to the heart and linger there with a poignant patience, knowing that if we dared to answer, it would be a powerful discovery.
The question brought us all to a very powerful edge of personal inquiry. That’s what I love about our monthly men’s group gathering, we create sacred space where there is time, space and a longing for just such types of exploration and discovery. We like exploring life’s edges. That’s where life really happens.
What would I give my life for? To allow the question to plant itself a bit deeper I swapped the word “for” to “to.” What would I give my life to? Ahhhhhhhh there it was, what indeed would I, with no restrictions, limitations, concerns of practicality or “reality” checks dedicate my life to? And why?
As the ah-ha moments came we each shared the deeply held belief or value that spoke most robustly from within us when prompted in such an intriguing way. What core and intimate connection did we each feel with life that would inspire us to dive in, full commitment, no hesitation, all consequences be damned, if we had to make the decision right here, right now and live with it the rest of our lives?
As a leader, one of your key roles is to help transform confusing complexity into elegant and powerful simplicity.
Arguably the most complex component of a leader’s world is the diverse mix of people they lead.
Organizational cultures can be a minefield of complex and intricate relationships. You already know how even a very small handful of intimate relationships at home can be challenging enough to manage. At work, the complexity of multiple relationship dynamics multiplies exponentially. Add to that the pressures of stress, speed, ego, career advancement, the ever shifting landscape of office politics, perceived status, financial security and working with people who you didn’t necessarily choose to have in your life – and you’ve got a pretty complex situation to manage.
As a leader, you need to do everything you can to add clarity, inspiration, encouragement and well defined purpose to this wildly flavored soup of relationships and often conflicting goals.
Rewards – Seeking the simple solution first
So, yes, people are complicated. But we are also quite simple in that we typically do more of what we are rewarded for and do less of those things that yield no rewards or have negative consequences.
It is through this particular simplicity of human nature that a purposeful leader can realize their best leverage for shaping a stellar team.
A Leader’s most critical role is ensuring that those they lead are having the most courageous conversations possible.
One of the core guiding principles of courageous leadership is that you are always evolving the team. No matter what problems you are trying to solve or goals you are attempting to reach, there is ALWAYS a parallel agenda of building, strengthening and supporting a highly productive and creative team culture.
Confident leaders don’t concern themselves with being the smartest person in the room, just the most present and attentive.
It is not the leader’s primary function to generate the best ideas. A leader’s most important role is to create the culture and environment where courageous conversations, daring ideas, ingenious collaborations, healthy conflicts and bold actions can take root, grow and thrive.
“Be generous & prolific in your own self care and acts of courage. Those who your heroic choices inspire today, might well be your own inspiration tomorrow.”
The communities in which we live and work are the communities that we help build, create and evolve through our own actions and deeds. If we choose actions and behaviors which are inspiring, healthy and courageous then those qualities will be reflected in the world around us. Choose wisely and you will find yourself surrounded by healthy, courageous and inspired people who will be there when you need them most. It is a self sustaining and self promulgating course of positive action that inspires more positive action.
There’s not a person that I know, including myself, who couldn’t stand a little softening around the edges or wouldn’t benefit greatly from a bit of letting go.
Think about your friends, family and co-workers. I’d wager that when you consider how they might be a bit more graceful in the world, you most likely see where they might soften an edge, ease a tightness, loosen a clenched grip or let go of some need to control.
Of course, this applies to you too, you being human after all.
And if you’re in a leadership position, then the areas where you hold on the most fervently might very well be inhibiting the growth and potential of those you lead.