In 2012, corporate guru Seth Godin released a “children’s” book
titled V is for Vulnerable: life outside the Comfort Zone. In it, Seth runs through the letters of the alphabet along with some of the significant ideas they represent— integrity, trust, and productivity in the workplace. It truly is a marvelous picture-book, appropriate for any business exec at any level in the grinding wheel. ‘Nough said.
But what about vulnerability? Why would this great guru of leadership pick this letter as the title for his book? Vulnerability is the critical attribute most wannabe leaders side-step to avoid exposing too much of themselves to curious eyes.
VULNERABILITY is about being open & honest with people. Granted, there is a difference between openness and honesty. We are always called to be honest in our personal and professional relationships. But openness depends upon the degree of trust between people, between companies, within families, or between nations.
It’s about safety. Am I safe with this person? To what degree can I trust this multinational treaty? What are my hesitations in this relationship? This is where mutual vulnerabilitybecomes a critical factor. Am I safe in revealing more of myself to this person? In thisbusiness contract? In this national concordat?
It is those subtle nuances that give us pause in our exposure. This is where a confidante or counselor could play a vital backdrop role in reaching a mutually safe agreement on how things should proceed. It always helps to see things though another’s eyes. This lowers the risk level a tad; but, as always, someone has to make the final decision, set the course of action, and seal the pact with an honest handshake. And a signature— YOURS.
Without question, if this person is you, make the decision within the wisdom and insights offered by others. But, make the decision. This will employ your sense of safety, your gut intuition, and your “read” of every party in the negotiations. It will include your willingness to be vulnerable with those across the table; it will involve their willingness to be mutually vulnerable with you.
Our ability to be vulnerable with people is in direct correlation with our ability to love and/or trust another person or group. If you cannot be vulnerable, you also probably have difficulties with trusting and loving. Doing business, resolving conflicts (especially in marriage), or creating the future are all issues of trust, safety, and vulnerability— on both sides.
So, work at being more vulnerable, more approachable. Sure, you’ll get burned sometimes; but that’s no reason to throw out the gains reaped from being vulnerable.
For what it’s worth,