Vulnerability: Smart Seems Stupid to Knuckleheads
Vulnerability is mocked by arrogance and rejected by fools.
Smart people have told me some wildly underwhelming things that eventually dawned on me.
Glimpses of vulnerability:
When I asked Jim Parker, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, to share his favorite word of advice he underwhelmed me with two words. “Be yourself.” I thought, “Can’t you do any better than that?”
Being yourself requires courageous vulnerability.
Henry Mintzberg, management scholar, answered the question with one word, “Connect.” I thought, “Is that it?”
Connection requires vulnerability.
Many things that seemed like gibberish to me have become wisdom. Interestingly, the statements didn’t change. I did.
#1. Vulnerability is beautiful to the people who count.
Arrogance mocks vulnerability. Wisdom embraces it.
A person who respects your vulnerability is worth being in your life.
#2. Vulnerability opens your heart and mind.
Those who lack vulnerability know and judge. Those with vulnerability explore and learn.
I spent too much of my life being a knower. The only way a know-it-all can maintain their image is to close their mind.
The person who is always right couldn’t be more wrong.
#3. Vulnerability is a channel of connection.
Lack of vulnerability explains shallow manipulative relationships.
Real connection demands vulnerability when real people are involved.
#1. Whisper in your own ear:
- I could be wrong.
- What if they are right?
#2. Tell your story and include some warts.
#3. Consider vulnerability a badge of honor.
I actually heard Patrick Lencioni say, “I don’t think a leader can be too vulnerable.”
Someone is going to say something to you that seems stupid. If they are a person of experience, I suggest you explore instead of dismiss.
Stupid seems smart when you’re dumb.
It’s good for your soul to acknowledge your own stupidity.
What are some powers of vulnerability?
How might leaders practice vulnerability?
4 Ways to Let Yourself be Seen without Oversharing
In situations that are hierarchical, competitive or predatory, vulnerability will be used against you.
Would it be fair to say that by being vulnerable you are playing the long-game? Whereas, by hiding it, you can temporarily lift yourself up and achieve more (albeit sometimes more superficial) results?
Those are enlightening and challenging questions. Also incredibly difficult to put into practice when it feels (probably not reality) like everything else is headed in the opposite direction!
In places like that, anything you say is written down and used against you, as the old police caution used to say. You don’t get to take part in the long game.
My sister shared these words with me a long time ago and I have never forgotten this. “I try to remember that I don’t know everything.” Be it people, our own situations, why, etc. It also keeps me open to the potential adventures and connections coming down the path.
As a leader. Being vulnerable helps connect oneself with those around you. If the work environment breeds fear of being vulnerable. Is that the right place to work? “Be yourself”
More people should try to keep an open mind about Trump. He was right about a lot of things. A certain percentage of the US population does not understand true leadership.