6 lessons we can learn from being vulnerable

In her world-renowned TEDx talk, Brené Brown says, “vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.

These are are targets many of us want to achieve in our work and in our lives: joy, creativity, belonging, love. But are you willing to be vulnerable in order to achieve them?

Brené Brown is a Research Professor in Social Work, Author, and Public Speaker. Her latest talk, The Call to Courage, has been a source of inspiration for The Calmer Team this week. In today’s post, we explore the benefits of being vulnerable, as well as the ways you can start letting go of perfectionism, and start following a more contented, authentic path.


1. Vulnerability creates a sense of worthiness

In her TEDx talk, Brené Brown first notes that the test subjects in her research who handle shame and fear well are those that embrace their vulnerability. When looking a little deeper, she notes that she can divide people based on their “sense of worthiness … a strong sense of love and belonging.”

Rather than ignoring our weaknesses, acknowledging them can lead to better things. We value ourselves for who we truly are, we open ourselves up to love and belonging from others, and we strengthen our work by partnering with people who hold the qualities we lack.

To start working on this, follow our guide to self-love and improving your relationship with yourself.


2. Vulnerability enables us to be courageous

Courage is shown as one of the best qualities we can have: it’s there in fairy tales, superhero films, even in entrepreneurial biographies. But without vulnerability, we cannot be courageous.

Courage is defined as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” In order to find ourselves in situations of difficulty, danger, and pain, we must open ourselves up to these possibilities - not with the intention of going through these struggles, but with the view to reach the light at the end of those tunnels.

If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, business owner, or team member in a start-up or SME, you have likely already experienced difficult situations. You have taken a harder path, a road less travelled. It’s worth reminding yourself of your willingness to be vulnerable, your bravery in taking a risk, and the courageous steps you are taking each day.

Remind yourself of your bravery often - it’s the first step in recognising and dealing with stress too.


3. Vulnerability highlights authenticity

Many of us - especially in a professional setting - present a persona we believe we should be to please others. The hard part is to let go of this, and embrace your authenticity.

Authenticity is one of the most valued traits in business. We want to trust the people we work with, the brands we buy from, the people we follow on social media. There are many authentic leaders who do it well: Steve Jobs did it by wearing jeans and sneakers instead of a suit; Oprah Winfrey started her own entertainment production company to capitalise upon her own talent.

In order to achieve authenticity, it is key we let ourselves be seen - warts and all. Letting go of a perfection can be hard, and especially from behind the guise of a business or brand, but these days it is crucial. Recognise where your areas of improvement are, and be transparent about them.

Consumers value transparency more than marketing-speak and CSR smoke-and-mirrors. They are willing to grow with you, with your business, and watch as you work on those areas over time.


4. Vulnerability fosters connection

Have you ever encountered someone who struck you as odd, inauthentic, or fake? The chances are you have - and we wager that you did not value that connection.

In order to make real connections, in business and in life, it is important to be yourself. Allow people to see you for who you are, and make their own decisions about you. You will value those people all the more - and form true, honest relationships.

Discover how to forge great connections in a coworking environment in our recent guide with The Brew.


5. Vulnerability opens up new opportunities

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” That phrase is all the more crucial when you work for yourself - pitching and touting for business becomes common practice. But what happens when you highlight your vulnerabilities alongside your strengths?

By putting your authentic self out there in these situations may make you may feel uncomfortable. You may encounter rejection. But you will also create true, strong connections with others who appreciate you for you who are - and are willing to give you a chance. That investment in you and your business is much more fulfilling than one founded upon falsehoods and distrust.

If this is something you wish to work on, we recommend taking our digital wellbeing training, and try this reflection on your entrepreneurial journey exercise.


6. Vulnerability promotes a healthier mindset

Brené Brown’s work in the field of vulnerability, courage, and authenticity, also touches upon many points explored in The Reignite Project, our free course supporting the reduction of stress and burnout in 600,000 people by 2023.

In our new short film for The Reignite Project, three very different entrepreneurs and business owners talk openly about their experiences with the physical, mental, and emotional stress of burnout - and how those moments changed their perception on mental health and its affects in their work and life.

While we hope it doesn’t take burnout to get you to prioritise your mental health, there is definitely a correlation between experiencing dark days and realising that we are worthy of love and care, starting from within.

You can get started now by: