If there is one thing I have learned in both my personal and professional life than it is how scary and at the same time enriching it is to embrace our vulnerability. I see it all the time with my clients and have often been there myself.
My sense is that when we get to those cross roads, our choice is “do I want to go forward with authenticity and overcoming my fear, which has been holding me back and stopping me from showing up fully” or “do I want to play it—seemingly—safe and stick with the devil I know?”
While I have often found myself consciously deciding that I was ready to be authentic and embrace my vulnerability, there was often a conflicting force that didn’t allow me to move forward and showing up fully. Those have been the moments when I most benefitted from people close to me offering me their perspective and lending me their “set of eyes” in overcoming my blind spots. That is basically what I offer my clients, since coaching work has a lot to do with raising self-awareness.
Why is it so difficult for most of us to learn about these “hidden forces?” It seems quite obvious. It is scary to enter unknown territory. “What if I don’t like the new parts of me?” “What if others don’t like them?” “What if others will take advantage of or use my vulnerability to hurt me?” We have often learned early on that the best way to “survive” was to keep all our fears and pains and insufficiencies bottled up and rather conduct ourselves as seemingly invincible, so not to get hurt further. We have developed a persona that seems to work reasonably well and that allows us to stay in a relatively manageable place.
This is particularly true in the corporate environment and for those of us in a leadership role where it seems to be all about strength, confidence, extraversion, and fearlessness. It is not exactly the environment where a culture of showing vulnerability, owning our mistakes and weaknesses or embracing our fears is nurtured.
So, how can anyone and particularly those of us in a leadership or coaching role make a difference? How can we show up in a way, so that we role model a different approach?
It all starts with making a conscious choice every day to be the most authentic self we can be. To fully embrace the notion that it is entirely in our own power to make this day count and meaningful. That there is no better day than today to make a difference in someone else’s life and role model that not being perfect is absolutely OK.
We can achieve this by showing up with empathy, kindness and support when we see someone else struggle and by making it very clear to them that it is ok to not get it right all the time. We can assure them that making mistakes is human and that we have been there ourselves many times. We can encourage them by letting them know that we have confidence in their ability to learn from what has just happened. By practicing this way of showing up on a daily basis, it will not only allow us to be a shining light for others, but to also integrate it into our own way of being and to treat ourselves with the same type of kindness, empathy, and encouragement naturally.
So, in what way are you determined and will you show up differently today? What is the one thing you could do differently right away that would bring you a bit closer to the more complete, the authentic you? Even if it might mean taking a little risk - stretching is good.