Vulnerability: What Are We So Afraid Of?

This week has really been a challenging one for me as a leader of people at work, of my kids and my wife at home, of fellow youth leaders at church, of my extended family and my close friends. After a long season of battling many different illnesses, a long-time close friend, mentor and advisor died: my father-in-law. He was the most determined and optimistic person I have ever known and I am going to miss him immensely.  

I hadn't planned to share this with you all, but I was convicted just minutes before my father-in-law passed away, by a friend of mine who was amazingly vulnerable in sharing a challenging part of his life in front of a group of youth.

As I've struggled with the loss of  my friend and man of counsel, I've been severely challenged in my confidence to lead well in all areas, but especially with my family.  My desire to lead my family through this situation moved me to connect with friends and colleagues who've been through similar challenges or have counseling training. Why did I do this?  Because even though I am in a situation that I was not expecting, I don't want to flounder.  So I shared my heart with these friends; I got vulnerable. I cried on the phone with them and wept when I met with them.  It wasn't easy to reach out and then share my weakness of not knowing what to do, but I knew I needed to be vulnerable  to lead well through this challenging time. I swallowed my pride and went to them.

Brené Brown, a researcher on human connection and author of the book, Daring Greatly, talks about how you can't get to courage until you have walked through vulnerability.  She says, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging and of love... to be vulnerable, we need to let ourselves be deeply seen, to love with all of our hearts even when there is no guarantee of love in return, to practice gratitude and joy and to believe that if we do our best with our heart, that it is enough."  This will move you toward being a "wholehearted" leader,  a leader with courage, a leader with compassion and a leader who connects.

Life throws challenges at you that you are not going to expect both at work and at home.  A significant portion of these challenges you are not going to know what to do.  Nothing you have experienced and nothing you have read will tell you what to do.  Are you vulnerable enough to go to those people that you trust and that may have been there before and share your weaknesses with them?  I would highly encourage you to. And then after you gain counsel, be open to tell those that you are leading that you don't have all the answers, but that you're doing your best to lead them well.  Sharing your weaknesses isn't easy and this world will tell you not to do this, but I guarantee that those you lead will love you for it.  

Brené Brown talks about the power of vulnerability in the video below.  There are a couple of words that she says that I honestly wish she didn't, but I think the content of the video is worth overlooking those few items.  I hope my reflection and this video inspire you to overcome the fear of sharing your weaknesses and allow you to be more vulnerable with your team, organization, spouse, kids and family. 

(Note: this video contains explicit language.)