Turns out courage and vulnerability go hand in hand – who knew?!

17th May 2019

I’ve been working my way through a whole range of Brene Browns’ stuff just recently. She’s done some brilliant TED Talks, written some great books and she’s even got a talk that’s showing on Netflix at the moment.

I’ve been reading around what her research says about courage and particularly it’s relevance in leading (dare to lead is a great ready BTW!). What’s fascinating about her research is that she found that courage and vulnerability they kinda go hand in hand, rather than being at different ends of the spectrum. When she interviewed people who were considered courageous, they described how, even in the midst of those moments when they were “being courageous” feelings of vulnerability were very much prevalent.

It’s funny but thinking about some of the moments where I’ve had to lean into my own courageous self, I’ve totally, felt massively vulnerable. I almost can’t separate them out in my own head. Leaving the house that first day when I’d lost all my hair after chemo, without a wig, felt massively scary. I felt exposed, vulnerable and rather than going under the radar I knew that I was going to stand out for all the wrong reasons. Having said all that, I did it. I was totally bald for about 6 months. It wasn’t at all how I wanted to look – but rather than cover up with a wig, I wanted to just show up as me. Yes, of course I worried about what people might say or think; bit it felt worth the risk somehow!!

So, what’s this go to do with anything?

I think we can underestimate how vulnerability provoking daring greatly actually is. In those moments where we are digging deep to dial up our most courageous selves, we’re also battling with what can be overwhelming feelings of vulnerability…they go hand in hand. In all of her research Brown could not find one example of courage that did not require vulnerability. It’s normal to feel vulnerable. It’s part of the human condition. Vulnerability is not a weakness. To be comfortable with our vulnerability is in itself courageous.

In the coaching and counselling work I do, we’re often working against peoples deeply held beliefs that it’s not OK to be vulnerable or to have emotions…when in essence the opposite is true. If we want people in our teams or business to be more courageous, we all need to get more comfortable with vulnerability.

If you’d like encourage people in your own team or business to be more courageous, perhaps you need to think about developing your own vulnerability muscle. Here’s some questions to get you started;

  • How comfortable are you with vulnerability?
  • What climate does that create?
  • How is vulnerability viewed in your team or business?
  • How safe is it for people to be courageous and vulnerable?
  • What small steps could you take to develop that vulnerability muscle for yourself?
  • How could you role model vulnerability within your role?

It goes without saying, that if you’d like some support with any of this…take that second courageous step and give me a call! I’m assuming that the first, most courageous step of all is admitting that you could be better that this!! J

Good luck!!!