Showing Vulnerability Towards Vulnerability

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Vulnerability.  Now that is a word that induces some serious anxiety and makes you feel, well…vulnerable.

I know that’s the case for me, anyways.  I hadn’t given much thought to the word, however, until attending a recent Eagle Leader Academy in the Mid-Atlantic.  During an amazing weekend spent with Eagle Leaders, many leadership topics were covered, but the one that stuck out to me most was this concept of “vulnerability.”

Throughout the weekend, I learned that I consider other people’s feelings and perspectives to a fault.  What do I mean by this?  That should be a good thing, right?  Well, not when you don’t allow yourself to share your own story because you believe that someone else has had it worse than you (which is also a great example of “one downing,” another concept that resonated with me), or you fear that it may make them uncomfortable, or one million other things you tell yourself as to why you can’t fully open up because of how it may negatively affect someone else.  But what you lose sight of in the constant concern of your impact on others, is that you could very well, and most likely would be helping them, by merely being VULNERABLE.

Ah, there’s that word again.  The word that I’ve actively avoided for most of my life.  I’m supposed to be strong and independent; I’m not supposed to show the world that I struggle. Ever.  Always be the optimistic, upbeat person that is there for others, to help them through their troubles.

Boy, was this outlook naive…  What I didn’t realize is that by hiding away my full story, uncomfortable moments and all, I was keeping myself from being completely authentic, something that I had believed I was.  I was honestly a bit crushed when I realized I’d been wrong about myself.  I strive to understand other people, and as a marketing professional it’s a significant part of my job and life to understand other people, and here I was, wrong about myself.  Talk about a reality slap in the face.

But I’m beyond thankful for that reality slap in the face.  I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for this experience and to the other Eagle Leaders who were already brave enough to share their full story, for helping me realize this about myself so that I can work on it, and one day be as brave as they are and share my full story.  Writing this blog post in itself is a step in that direction.  Showing vulnerability towards vulnerability.  What a concept…