Dare to Lead (2018) explores how you can find the inner courage to lead a great team. Drawing on her own experiences as a leadership coach, as well as recent research, these blinks explore how you can harness your emotions, quash your fear of failure and become a daring leader in an increasingly competitive world.
What makes you feel vulnerable? The author has posed this question to thousands of individuals over the years, garnering responses that will probably sound familiar. Vulnerability is the first date after your difficult divorce, starting to run your first business or how you feel when you get laid off from work. In fact, vulnerability is a universal human emotion that we feel when we expose ourselves to others and during times of risk or uncertainty.
Nonetheless, despite being such a common feeling, there are some damaging myths surrounding vulnerability, particularly that it equals weakness.
Experiences that make you feel vulnerable, like losing a job or putting yourself out there emotionally, can bring feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and a desire for self-protection. However, there is not a single piece of empirical data to suggest that vulnerability is associated with weakness. In fact, the opposite is true: acts of courage are impossible without first putting yourself in a vulnerable position.
Just consider the question that the author put to a room of special forces military personnel in 2014. After explaining that vulnerability is the emotion that accompanies risk and uncertainty, the author then asked these brave, tough soldiers whether any of them had ever undertaken or witnessed a courageous act that did not require them to feel vulnerable. Unsurprisingly, none of the soldiers could come up with a single example of courageousness in which vulnerability hadn’t come along for the ride. In other words, as soon as the audience focused on their actual experiences of being courageous, the myth of vulnerability and weakness crumbled.
And vulnerability isn’t just essential to courage. In fact, it is the cornerstone of human innovation and creativity. Why? Because there is so much uncertainty inherent to the creative process that successful innovation usually requires a healthy dose of failure along the way. On a cultural level, this means that a society that equates vulnerability with weakness is likely to struggle to produce new ideas or fresh perspectives - although some individuals will inevitably go against the grain.
As Golden Globe-winning actress and writer Amy Poehler points out, it’s very difficult to let yourself be vulnerable, and those who can are often society’s dreamers, thinkers and creators.