The Case for Vulnerable Leaders at Work and Home

I just picked up a fascinating book by Brene Brown titled, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead”. This book makes the case that we need to embrace our “ability to believe that we are enough.” Easier said than done. How does one do that in our current culture of competition, anxiety, perfectionism and comparison?

This book spoke personally to me. For years, I have felt the need to measure up to my own code filled with internal judgments manifested in shoulds and musts. Some of my favorites:

  • I should have anticipated that was going to happen then I could have done something about it (control)
  • I did not do as well on my presentation as ________, therefore, I am not as smart as or good enough as she/he is
  • I should have had that mammogram earlier, it’s my fault I have cancer
  • I am not a good mother because I yell, make mistakes, didn’t handle that well, etc.
  • I should be a better wife, he deserves someone more like him
  • Next time, I must do a better job of _______
  • My team must think I’m an idiot because I just blew it in there

This book has opened my eyes to the fact that we all have our internal voices that scream we are not ever enough. Wanting to learn more about Brown’s work, I learned that she gave her first talk about shame and the power of vulnerability before the Ted Houston group of close to 400 people. Her talk was so well received that she went onto the national Ted stage with her powerful message about “wholeheartedness” and embracing vulnerability as a place where one finds joy.

Moving towards vulnerability makes me feel like I am losing control. After all, we are never supposed to let others know about our vulnerability in case they find us weak, right? Well maybe, letting others in on the real us, the lovable us, is the only way to finally feel like we are worthy of love in the first place.

When do you feel most vulnerable? How do you handle those times?