I was brought up to never show fear and never let someone spot weaknesses. The very thought of vulnerability was a sign of weakness. Boy, was that wrong! What I discovered over the past few years changed everything for me.
When you’re raised on a farm by a Marine who served in combat in Vietnam, vulnerability is your enemy. It took me several years of failed jobs and many failed relationships to realize that my lack of emotional availability was the actual enemy.
When you’re raised to believe that vulnerability is for sissies, it’s tough to find the humility to recognize that’s a lie. For me, it happened a few years ago. I was training a group of salespeople when I began sharing a story that I had shared very transactionally many times. For whatever reason, the story went deep this time. I opened myself up and shared my emotions with the group. It was quite evident that I was struggling to fight back the tears as I told it.
What happened next blew me away. When I asked the group to go around and share stories, nearly every one of them told a very personal, emotionally connecting story. Many tears were shed in that room that day.
Over the following weeks and months leading up to today, I have watched firsthand how the power of vulnerability can change relationships and entire companies.
The Impact of Vulnerability
- It allows you to appear human. People want to trust others but they’re afraid of getting burned. When you show vulnerability, it allows other people to see that you’re human, just like them. You bleed just like them. You share the same hopes, fears and dreams.
- It shows humility. Humility is one of, if not the most important characteristic of great connectors and leaders. It’s hard to be arrogant or be perceived as such when you show genuine vulnerability.
- It helps you create instant connection. People like people they feel a connection with. People they can relate to. We’ve all been knocked down, kicked around and had our share of struggles. When you communicate your struggles, fears, or mistakes to others, they immediately see themselves in you and it creates a powerful connection.
- It builds trust. If you see someone lay their history out before you and really show their scars, you subconsciously begin to trust that person. Your brain perceives them as trustworthy, because anyone who is willing to do that will be honest with you. Honesty is the foundation of trust.
I know many of you will have difficulty with this—especially men. Our society and culture has created a misconception that to show vulnerability is to show weakness. We must learn to control that fear. I can tell you from personal experience that since I embraced the power of vulnerability, my relationships have never been healthier, my business has never been stronger, and my own self worth has never been higher. In the end, it’s your choice. Choose well!