In this article I want to define what it is to be vulnerable and discuss why you should be vulnerable. Most of the examples and advice is based on my own personal experience, wherein I’ve spent an increasing amount of my energy over the past 3 years focusing on ensuring I show vulnerability.
What it means to “be vulnerable”
Being vulnerable means to expose parts of yourself that you don’t feel comfortable exposing. For me I’ve found these parts to primarily be locked up by the ego. Other times it can be from fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or risking some aspect of your life such as a relationship or job.
Examples of situations where the “be vulnerable” option is available:
- You’ve made a small mistake at work that can be easily rectified with no-one noticing. Alternatively you can admit your mistake
- A friend really hates a movie that you love and you can just agree with them during the conversation. Alternatively you can admit you love it and try to put in to words what you love about it
Why should you be more vulnerable?
By being on a path of exposing parts of yourself that you’re not normally comfortable sharing, your life becomes more closely aligned with who you actually are. An extreme example might be to accept that you aren’t happy with your high pay, high pressure job, and that you would rather be winding it down a bit. Less extreme examples are being more honest about deadlines, or telling a friend that you feel like you’re drowning sometimes.
The way people interact with you changes when you become more comfortable exposing your flaws as well. It sounds slightly contradictory but when people can see your flaws they actually trust you more. This is true on both a personal and professional level. As an example of how this works I might lay my plan out for anyone to view, with all the articles I learnt from, and all of the naive assumptions I’ve made. Someone may pick flaws in my arguments and attack them aggressively, bruising my ego. But because nothing was hidden they know exactly what went on, what I learnt from them, and what they learnt from me. Later they may come to me to discuss their own ideas, or ask me to do something that requires a level of trust because even if we disagreed on how things would be approached they know that they can see my mistakes if they want to.
Another way that this has affected how people view me is that I’m considered a natural leader. My personal experience tells me that a strong leader isn’t someone who keeps many secrets or lets their ego control the path, but rather it’s someone who exposes the path they want to go on, and lets others critique and adjust as necessary. It’s a necessary skill to be able to admit when you don’t know the answer and let others help you find it.
Being more vulnerable has given me closer friends, more control over my career, and more fulfilment from my hobbies. The difference in how happy I am with my life now in comparison to three years ago is incomparable.
Written by Matthew Hotchen on