- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Vulnerability’
By Sarah O’Rourke, guest blogger
Whether we know it or not, our fears and insecurities can keep us from truly connecting with others. We want to be known for who we are, and have confidence in our decisions. But how do we actually start to gain this confidence? How do we grow?
I remember stressing for weeks over confronting one of my roommates about the state of our shared kitchen towels. My roommate and I used them constantly, but no one seemed to be cleaning them. They were only towels, after all. It may seem like a small interaction now, but at the time it felt like the end of the world.
My avoidance of the confrontation made a common, apartment-life issue into a real problem.
This is how many hard confrontations happen. When it finally came time to discuss a hard topic, I found myself anxious and unable to communicate.
Here’s the one thing I found helpful. I found if I was vulnerable with my roommate, it made things easier. Approaching someone without vulnerability makes confrontation even more uncomfortable.
When we approach others with vulnerability, we put ourselves in a position of fear. But vulnerability can actually help us constructively confront others. We connect and just put it all out there and they sense our genuineness. Our self-confidence grows, as a result.
This is true in business and in life.
The same stressors that make confrontation difficult in our personal lives are present in business as well. When I was working to re-structure a writing tutor position, I noticed that we were having problems scheduling appointments. The problem was that our students were not able to work in a quiet environment on the first floor. This is especially problematic in tutoring, where you need the full attention of a student. But I felt intimidated by my manager. I seemed aggravated. But when I finally admitted that I was worried about something we shared, she met me in the middle. I made myself vulnerable with her, and she and I were able to brainstorm new ideas.
My manager approached me with later with the same problem, and our vulnerability was courageous. She owned her worries, and the next time I needed to fix a problem with our appointments, I approached her with the same humble courage. We agreed that our students needed their own room for appointments. By prioritizing both of our needs this way, she and I ensured our mutual success. Plus, it made us happy.
Fear and happiness lie at opposite ends of the same spectrum, and sometimes the scariest thing we can do is confront ourselves and be vulnerable and able to change. But owning and accepting your insecurities earns you a great deal of respect and increases your self-confidence, and allows you the room to grow.
Sarah O’Rourke was born and raised in San Diego and has a passion for art. She recently received her MBA from Point Loma Nazarene, and hopes to keep writing, drawing, and helping people tell their stories. She is an animal lover who will usually stop what she is doing to say hello to a cat or dog. She can be found by the beach, and is always looking for opportunities to learn something new.
I always preach that if you are not quirky and unique, it becomes hard to develop a really optimal and effective (and fun!) personal brand for you. Truth is that everyone has quirks and eccentricities. Trouble is that none of us wants to own them because then we are the “oddball” and perhaps “weird” and by extrapolation— unlikeable and yes, un-loveable.
But how do we really know if this will be the way our brand is perceived by others? Have you ever taken a poll? Odds are- no.
I had a meeting with someone just the other day where this person claimed that if she did X, Y or Z, then she may be seen as “too out there”. I had to interject (as I often have to do with clients. Hey, that’s my job!) that in fact, she was not being “too out there” if she did X, Y or Z with her brand. In fact, she would be seen as memorable AND credible if she did X, Y or Z, much less all three.
In reality, you see yourself way more “crazy” or “out there” than others do. That’s just a part of being a self-conscious and fearful human. My goal is to get you to see yourself as a self-confident, happy person and personal brand that can be self-expressed doing X, Y, and Z and be loved and loving.
So if I had one piece of advice it is: your goal should be to stay within the rules, yet always be pushing the envelope just outside your comfort zone. As with everything in life, you have to seek balance. That usually means being “crazy” or “out there” because odds are you will barely be crazy enough, but you’ll likely be happy, memorable, have higher recall value and generate business.