I recently read that there are three attributes ‘new’ leaders share. Courage. curiosity. Humility.
I think humility is part of ‘vulnerability’. And I believe a leader needs to be willing to be ‘vulnerable’. To let go of ‘I am right’ thinking and move into that place where they enter every situation with ‘beginner’s mind’ as Zen master Shunryu Suzuki coined it. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
Researcher, author, speaker, story-teller, Brene Brown says that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.
Yet, we numb vulnerability constantly. We stop up our fear, bottle it into a tiny brass container and bury it deep beneath our psyche in the hope no one will see or feel or sense its presence.
It doesn’t really matter if anyone else sees it because regardless of how hard we try to hide it, we know it’s there. And it’s not going anywhere until we face it.
Opening up to fear, opening up to that place where we don’t have to appear perfect, or even close to it, takes courage. And it leaves us vulnerable.
Vulnerable, not in the ‘you are so weak, you coward you’, kind of thinking that we often associate with vulnerability, but rather in the ‘I am strong enough to be who I am in all my imperfections, and to love myself as who I am, beauty and the beast, light and dark, and to reveal myself without fear you will judge me as wanting and not enough’.
That’s vulnerability. That’s leadership. To allow yourself to fail knowing in your failure are the gifts of learning forward into the winds of adversity to find the path of knowing. Of seeing deeper into what it was that lead you to that point of knowing, ‘well this isn’t working, what’s next?’. That place where you trust there is a ‘next’ because the ‘mistake’ is just the next step into learning the answer. Into evolving into something more than anything you imagined or could conceive of until you were willing to let go of believing you knew it all.
I never knew what I was capable of until I stood at the edge of a river and couldn’t drown myself in the depths of my despair. In that moment of turning my back upon the waters calling me under, I knew love was deeper than anything I could imagine.
In that moment of sitting holding the hand of a dying homeless man, something I never imagined I would do, I discovered the truth of our connection. That in being here we have a sacred trust to take care of eachother, no matter how tenuous or thin our connection. We are all connected.
In standing in front of a group, telling my story of falling into the arms of love only to awaken to the horror of abuse, I find myself again and again coming back to the only answer that makes sense. Love.
Love is the answer. No matter the question. Love is the answer.
Loving myself. Loving you. Loving eachother. Loving life.
No matter the question. Love is the answer.
And when we let our courage draw us out into that place where we are willing to explore our vulnerability, where our curiosity opens us up to the depth and beauty of our being human, we let go of fear and fall with open arms into that place of surrender knowing, we are enough, just the way we are. And in our enoughness, we lead the way for others to become free of their fear of surrendering to Love.
I have watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability many times. I have shared it with many and share it with you today in the hopes you too find yourself opening up fearlessly into the light of knowing — you are enough. you are magnificent. There is no other quite like you because you are uniquely the gift you bring to this world. What a blessing you are!