Living with vulnerability is part of being human. There is no getting around it.
However, many of us blokes try.
Some of the ways we avoid vulnerability include:
- Controlling our emotions
- Become distracted with work
- Strive for material success
- Pay all our attention on pragmatism
- Heavily rely on physical attributes as measure of self esteem
What does vulnerability mean?
Many guys struggle for a meaningful definition of vulnerability. Meaningful, not in a formal dictionary kind of way but in a real life way.
Dr. Brene Brown, an american social researcher has done some amazing work on both shame and vulnerability. I highly recommend her TED Talks and Books.
In her book ‘Daring Greatly’ she defines vulnerability as:
‘Uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure’
For me it’s a grounded description of how life can sometimes challenge us. In her research she asked people to share their examples of vulnerability.
Here are some:
I imagine you have experienced some of these or similar in your life.
Brene Brown also asked participants to describe how it feels to be vulnerable.
Not sucking it up anymore
It’s where courage and fear meet
It’s taking off the mask and trusting the real me is not too disappointing
Sweaty palms and a racing heart
Scary, exciting. Terrifying and hopeful
Freedom and liberation
Taking off the straightjacket
Being all in
It’s like being naked on stage and hoping for applause not laughter
Stepping out and showing up
Men who open up to their vulnerability find relief and freedom. They step out of the dark and into the light.
One of the main ways of showing up is to tell your story.
There are a few ways of doing this. You can:
- Talk with a professional
- Open up to your partner and family
- Speak frankly with mates or work colleagues
- Write a blog post or a book
- Give a talk
One story in a million
Hang on! Giving a talk!
Sounds pretty radical to me!
Public speaking is high up there in the vulnerability stakes for pretty much everyone. However, I had the absolute privilege last year of attending a special event.
It was the graduation ceremony of Talk on Purpose a program run by The Slow School of Business here in Melbourne.
Talk on Purpose is an intensive program that coaches and guides people in how to present a talk (TED style).
On this particular evening each person had a deeply personal and meaningful story to share. There were men and women who had no experience of public speaking graduating from this 3 day coaching program.
It was a wonderful example of men and women working with their fear and vulnerability to help them show up, speak up and tell their story.
There were a number of men who took to the stage. What follows is Oliver’s brief story of his depression.
Telling your story is a wonderful way to grow personally, emotionally and professionally.
It takes the courage of vulnerability.