Vulnerability is a Sign of Courage, Not Cowardice

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Being vulnerable is actually a good thing. Learn how to use vulnerability in your career.Have you ever told yourself you are a coward?

I have. It seems like every time I hesitate – before an event, a daunting task, a pitch to someone new – my negative self-talk screams, “Coward, coward, coward!”

Fear is the culprit. I am capable. I am worthy. I am loved. But fear tries to tell me that I am none of those things right before I do something new, extraordinary, different.

Daring Greatly shows you how you can embrace vulnerability and courage, avoid shame and take your career to great heights.Brene Brown explores the topics of fear, vulnerability, courage, shame, connectedness and feeling worthy in her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead*. Brown has spent years interviewing people about these topics and turning that data into valuable insights about being human.

How This Applies to Your Career

Although Daring Greatly is helpful with parenting and just being a good person in general, there are amazing ways to use this book to enhance your career.

Do Not Take Critics Personally

Many parts of the book refer back to a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt. Basically, the quote says that the critic is not the person who counts in a situation but rather the person in the “arena” is the one who should be applauded. The person in that arena, the one putting themselves out there in the open is the one who dares greatly – not the one watching and judging from the sideline.

You know that moment when you hear the title of a movie or show while you are watching and you are like, “Aha!” That same feeling happens in this quote when re-reading it after reading Brown’s book.

Credit, glory, praise should be given to the person who chooses to dare greatly at work. If you are always judging others for their work without ever putting yourself out there, then you are not pushing yourself to be great. Who wants to promote someone who chooses not to take risks?

Do Not Shame Others

Shame is one of the most powerful tools you can use as a human. Someone fails you, and you can shame them to feel vindication, to “teach a lesson.” But the perceived benefits to you of shaming someone else are drastically outweighed by negative effects it has on the other person.

A good leader teaches, not shames others. Whenever you get that urge to shame someone else, take five deep breaths and re-evaluate yourself. The impact you have on that person (and on your entire management team) will be exponentially better if you can turn that interaction as a learning experience.

Watch Brene Brown talk about the power of vulnerability.

Brene Brown talks about vulnerability in this great TedTalk. Click the pic to watch.

Vulnerability Precedes Courage

When you put yourself out there, you are vulnerable. You could fail. You could play it safe. You could say, “Not today.”

What does not challenge you does not change you, as they say, so instead of avoiding vulnerability you must embrace it.

Your ability to overcome vulnerability is what Brown calls courage. So what if you fail? You tried. Good managers and peers will applaud the effort and the intention, and you can all learn from your experience.

Feeling nerves? Good. It means you are on to something great. Do not back down. Get support from others, prepare well and just go for it.


Brown provides additional information at COURAGEworks through ecourses, workshops and resources.

*This post contains an affiliate link for the book Daring Greatly. As a bookworm, I only recommend the books I love. I hope you like it, too!


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