Brene Brown caused a big stir when she stood up and started talking about her own vulnerability. As she candidly put it in her TED talk, she did not think that she was supposed to feel vulnerable. Only to discover, that she actually was missing out on some of the best of life—namely intimacy—by being unwilling to surrender to being vulnerable. I am so grateful for her efforts to make the world a little more real and a little more humane.
It takes a lot of discipline to open up when you feel threatened but that is just what vulnerability asks us to do. It asks us to let go of our pride –our need to be right—and open to the greater truth of ourselves, the other, and the situation. When we are vulnerable we loose the stranglehold of our lesser selves. Vulnerability requires that we are able rely on a much deeper and stronger part of our self –one that is not caught up in our ego.
Let me describe the process:
It happens all the time! I get myself into a situation where I can feel myself armoring up. I feel judged, disrespected, misunderstood. It does not matter what the specific situation is, really. Just that I can feel it coming on. This intense desire to protect myself -sometimes, at all cost. My heartbeat goes up, my muscles tense, my thoughts start running away, taking my rational self with them.
I know that nothing good can come with this approach but, it is so automatic sometimes. Can you relate?
It takes everything I’ve got to remember that my reaction is causing the problem not protecting me from it. I remember I have nothing to lose but my pride and I let go. My breath deepens. My muscles soften. I can feel my heart open up. NOW, I can make something good happen.
Now let’s break it down step by step:
Why is this important?
I am going to give you two reasons why this is so critical to our overall fulfillment in life. First, we are unable to develop real relationships that are deeply caring and intimate if we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Second, if we need to pretend that we are not vulnerable then our whole life becomes a charade. We have to work all the time to keep up appearances and in short that makes us miserable.
Short and sweet summary: If you want to be happy, learn how to be vulnerable.
Tune into this weeks Real Answers Radio for more on how to create meaningful relationships through vulnerability. The show is always live and your questions are always welcome!
Let’s face it. We all make mistakes.
Most of us know that failure is a reality of life, and at some level, we understand that it actually helps us grow. Intellectually, we even acknowledge that the greatest achievers — past and present — also routinely experienced colossal failures.
But still, we hate to fail. We fear it, we dread it, and when it does happen, we hold onto it. We give it power over our emotions, and sometimes we allow it to dictate our way forward (or backward). Some of us go to great lengths to avoid failure because of all the pain and shame associated with it. Why is it so hard to let go, forgive ourselves and move on? And how can we keep failure – or the fear of it — from derailing us?
Here are five strategies:
1. Don’t make it personal.
Separate the failure from your identity. Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t mean you are a failure. These are completely separate thoughts, yet many of us blur the lines between them. Personalizing failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence. There was a man who failed in business at age 21; was defeated in a legislative race at age 22; failed again in business at 24; overcome the death of his fiancée at 26; had a nervous breakdown at 27; lost a congressional race at 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed to become Vice President at age 47; lost a senatorial race at 49; and was elected as the President of the United States at the age of 52. This man was Abraham Lincoln. He refused to let his failures define him and fought against significant odds to achieve greatness.
2. Take stock, learn and adapt.
Look at the failure analytically — indeed, curiously — suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? After gathering the facts, step back and ask yourself, what did I learn from this? Think about how you will apply this newfound insight going forward.
Thomas Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times while he was inventing the light bulb. He was quoted as saying, “I have found 10,000 ways something won’t work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” The Wright brothers spent years working on failed aircraft prototypes and incorporating their learnings until they finally got it right: a plane that could get airborne and stay there.
3. Stop dwelling on it.
Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome. In fact, it will only intensify the outcome, trapping you in an emotional doom-loop that disables you from moving on. You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. The faster you take a positive step forward, the quicker you can leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts behind.
Don Shula is the winningest coach in the NFL, holding the record for most career wins (including two Super Bowl victories) and the only perfect season in NFL history.
Shula had a “24-hour rule,” a policy of looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. The coach allowed himself, his staff and his players 24 hours to celebrate a victory or brood over a defeat. During those 24 hours, Shula encouraged them to feel their emotions of success or failure as deeply as they could. The next day, it was time to put it behind them and focus their energy on preparing for their next challenge. His philosophy was that if you keep your failures and victories in perspective, you’ll do better in the long run.
4. Release the need for approval of others.
Often our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged and losing others’ respect and esteem. We easily get influenced (and spooked) by what people say about us.
Remember, this is your life, not theirs. What one person considers to be true about you is not necessary the truth about you, and if you give too much power to others’ opinions, it could douse your passion and confidence, undermining your ability to ultimately succeed.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job because someone thought she was “unfit for TV.” Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers. Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and good ideas.” Winston Churchill failed sixth grade and was considered “a dolt” by his teacher. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off the stage the first time he tried comedy. Soichiro Honda was rejected by an HR manager at Toyota Motor Corporation when he applied for an engineering job, leaving him jobless until he began making scooters in his garage and eventually founded Honda Motor Company. ’Nuff said.
5. Try a new point of view.
Our upbringing – as people and professionals – has given us an unhealthy attitude toward failure. One of the best things you can do is to shift your perspective and belief system away from the negative (“If I fail, it means I am stupid, weak, incapable, and am destined to fall short”) and embrace more positive associations (“If I fail, I am one step closer to succeeding; I am smarter and more savvy because the knowledge I’ve gained through this experience”).
Indeed, one can hardly find an historic or current-day success story that isn’t also a story of great failure. And if you ask those who have distinguished themselves through their achievements, they will tell you that failure was a critical enabler of their success. It was their motivator. Their teacher. A stepping stone along their path to greatness. The difference between them and the average person is that they didn’t give up.
Michael Jordan said it best: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Find Susan at www.authenticleadershipalliance.com or follow her on Twitter @susantardanico
I was the presenter at a New England eWomen event on Wednesday and I totally enjoyed the people who were there. I highly recommend (if you are local and in business) checking them out.
I was all prepared for my speech. I had spoken at eWomen groups before. I felt at ease and confident. And then, a curve ball. Unexpectedly I was asked to talk about my business for 2 minutes.
When it was my turn, I froze. My mind just went completely blank. I have introduced myself this way hundreds of times but my brain could not access the information it needed and I stumbled over my words. YUCK! Who likes public failure? No one does!
So, with the desire to turn this uncomfortable event into something positive, I started to think about what good might come of it. I decided that this post would be the start. And, maybe a book. Inspiration comes in so many ways!
Transforming Failure Into Inspiration
One thing that I hear over and over is that people are afraid to fail. They are afraid of what others are going to think about them. They are afraid to feel the pain of failure and because of this fear of failure they stop short or do not take action at all.
I have definitely been someone that has been afraid of failure. I have been afraid of it to such a degree that at times it has been totally paralyzing.
Truth be told, I was once quoted as saying “Everyone in my family is a perfectionist (including myself) but I suck at it.” This is interesting in two ways. First, saying that means I was the pinnacle of perfectionism. Second, this way of being clearly comes with a desire to be mean to myself in the form of judging everything that is not perfect.
If you experience this you know how much it sucks.
Perfectionists never feel good enough. When they make a mistake, and they know that they made a mistake, it is enough to take them down –really far down.
Sometimes this stops them from doing anything at all. Their perfectionist streak can hurt both career and relationships but it’s worst aspect is the internal judgement and negative dialog.
You can change the game by embracing your limitations and failures. This is not an easy thing to do and takes patience and practice, but it can be learned. Here are five things that you can do to become less of a perfectionist.
1. Stop performing: Do you find yourself making everything polished and perfect? Does everyone think you are amazing –all the time? It can be great to be amazing but know what is even better? Being liked for who you really are. Instead of perfect, aim for genuine.
2. Lean into your mistakes: If you are screwing up, let yourself screw up. It can even be fun. Take it from a serious person. Make a point of not taking YOURSELF to seriously.
3. See your mistakes as opportunities: There is something to be gained from every time we fail. How can you turn coal into a diamond?
4. Give credit to and enjoy both your strengths and limitations: Funny thing happens when you embrace either a strength or a limitation of yours, you become better able to embrace its opposite. This means you get to increasingly step more and more into your full self.
5. See it as a gift: When you are willing to be accepting of your limitations everyone around you is able to breath a bit more easily. Being honest about and accepting your shortcomings helps everyone around you heal themselves by creating an environment of love and acceptance. (more…)
I went to Omega to work with Carolyn Myss a couple weekends ago and one of the archetypes that she talks about is the Prostitute Archetype.
Think of it for a second. How are you willing to sell anything if the price is right? Whether we sell our time with our families, our values, or our health, it does not matter it is a sale of, as Carolyn Myss put it, a part of our soul that stops us from ever really being happy.
In order to make sure that you don’t sell your soul you need to know where it lives and how to care for it.
When your work is about success and fulfillment you do a lot of thinking about how to live the best possible life. Here is a list of some of the keys to living a deeply fulfilled life.
1. Figure out what you love. People are happier when they know what they love.
2. Do it often. Doing what you love makes you feel more fulfilled.
3. Remove things from your life that are mediocre, beige, flat or merely being tolerated. You only have so much time attention and energy don’t waste it on what does not matter.
1. Know what is important to you.
2. Know why it is important to you.
3. Because, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” F. Roosevelt
1. Learn to be good to others and do it as much as possible.
2. Learn to be good to yourself and do it as much as possible
3. Go out of your way everyday to do something especially nice for a total stranger.
1. Pay attention to all the wonderful things that are a part of your life both large and small.
2. Thank people for what they bring to your life.
3. Learn to find gratitude even for the things and people that are difficult
1. Take a few moments every day to sit quietly.
2. Keep a journal.
3. Learn to listen fully to what someone is saying. Really take it in before responding.
1. Make a list of everyone in your life that you have an unresolved issue with and find a way to resolve it within yourself and if possible with them.
2. Forgive yourself.
3. Make it a practice to forgive others as quickly as possible.
1. Make time to be creative in ways that please you the most.
2. Laugh as much as possible.
3. Remember that your life is what you dream it to be.
Looking for personal growth work that will guide you through making the changes you need to make for your fulfillment and support you as you step fully into a more fulfilled and happy life? Your answer may be LifeWork Community. Learn more here.
Courage is something that everybody wants — an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect. From the Bible to fairy tales; ancient myths to Hollywood movies,our culture is rich with exemplary tales of bravery and self-sacrifice for the greater good.
From the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz who finds the courage to face the witch, to David battling Goliath in the Bible, to Star Wars and Harry Potter, children are raised on a diet of heroic and inspirational tales.
Yet courage is not just physical bravery. History books tell colorful tales of social activists, such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who chose to speak out against injustice at great personal risk. Entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, who took financial risks to follow their dreams and innovate are like modern-day knights, exemplifying the rewards and public accolades that courage can bring. There are different types of courage, ranging from physical strength and endurance to mental stamina and innovation.
Here is a list of 6 ways we can show courage.
For this exercise, you will need a notebook and pen, as well as a quiet, uninterrupted space in which you can reflect.
Beginning with the first definition of courage, “Feeling Afraid Yet Choosing to Act,” answer the following questions: Think of a situation as an adult when you felt afraid, yet chose to face your fear?
(a) What did you observe, think, and feel at the time? (e.g., “I saw the rollercoaster and felt butterflies in my stomach”).
(b) What did you or the people around you say, think, and do to help you face your fear? (e.g., “I told myself that if little kids could go on it, so could I”).
(c) At what point did your fear start to go down? How did you feel afterwards?
(d) Now think back on a situation in childhood in which you faced your fear. How was it the same or different than the first situation?
(e) Finally, think of a situation you are currently facing that creates fear or anxiety. What are you most afraid of? (e.g., being fired if I ask my boss for a raise).
(f) Now, is there a way to apply the same skills you used in the two earlier situations to be more courageous this situation. Remind yourself that you have these skills and have used them successfully in the past. What mental or environmental barriers stand in the way of using these skills? How can you cope with or get rid of these barriers?
Repeat this exercise over the course of a week, using each definition of courage above. On Day 7, come up with your own definition of courage that is most meaningful to you and repeat the whole exercise using this definition.
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and expert on Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, and Mind-Body issues , who has published more than 50 scholarly works. Previously a Professor in a Graduate Psychology Program, she is now a practicing psychologist, executive and life coach, speaker, and media consultant.
I’m currently trying to make some changes in my career—and travel a lot less—so I can spend more time with my family and explore new creative endeavors. I have no idea how this will work—and I hate that! Which means I’m now compulsively polling my friends: What do you think? Is this crazy? But there’s a fine line between asking for suggestions and desperately grasping for answers nobody else can offer.
Uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable, so we try to escape it any way we can. Sometimes we even settle for misinformation or bad news over not knowing. Have you ever ended up in an Internet rabbit hole of terror while waiting for test results?
Yet it really is possible to thrive amid uncertainty. It’s not about getting advice you can trust; it’s about faith and self-trust—believing that whatever happens, you’ll find a way through it. Without uncertainty, we’d never start a business or risk loving someone new. There are no guarantees when we step into the unknown. But these periods of discomfort can give rise to life’s most important adventures.
Pay attention to what makes you feel better (and worse).
The unknown can bring out the worst in us. When I’m deep in uncertainty about work, I can get impatient and snappy with the people who mean the most to me—and that feels terrible. I’ve learned that sleep, exercise and eating healthy make me more patient and calm.
Create an emotional clearing.
Fear tends to drown out our intuition, so it’s essential to carve out moments of quiet—time for meditation, prayer or just a long walk—to reconnect with our gut. I’m still learning to meditate (and it’s not going well), but you can bet that when I have a big talk coming up, I’m out walking near my house, rain or shine, listening for the sound of my inner voice.
Instead of begging everyone in your address book for answers, ask one or two loved ones to remind you that it’s normal to feel vulnerable when you’re in a period of change. As my husband often tells me, “It’s supposed to suck right now. Go walk!” Uncertainty is a necessary part of getting where we want to go.