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.

Arrogance mocks vulnerability. Wisdom embraces it. Image of a skeptical person.

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.

Stupid seems smart when you're dumb. Image of a dunce cap on a stool.


#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.

Encourage vulnerability by practicing vulnerability. Image of a person taking off a mask.

3 suggestions:

#1. Whisper in your own ear:

  1. I could be wrong.
  2. 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?

Still curious:

4 Ways to Let Yourself be Seen without Oversharing