The Power of Vulnerability

BabyDo you feel you are enough?

Sometimes, as we are busy coaching to improve performance, meet goals and help our clients achieve more, we can find that another very different question rises to the surface.   It’s not about hard goals and outcomes and can be tricky to pin down; it’s  question that arises in a tentative, hesitant, almost faltering way, it goes something like this:  “Given there is always ‘more’ that I can ‘go for’, where do I find a sense of enough?  A sense that who I am  is enough?”

Scratch the surface of this question and one thing you’ll find is a challenge to find the courage to be imperfect. In a culture driven by perfectionism (what Christopher Lasch in 1979 called a ‘Culture of Narcissism’ ) this can feel like a tall order. There’s a difference between healthy striving to be all that we can be and perfectionism.  The former is more inward looking, fueled by a quest for meaning and fulfilment, it is energizing, life affirming and inspiring, it leaves us space to just ‘be’ and rest. The latter is driven by a sense of inadequacy, you can spot it in a tendency to exhaustion, anxiety, overwhelm or burnout and a preoccupation with questions like: “What will they think? How will I look? What if they don’t like me?

Whether you are a coach or a coachee there is a vulnerability in  moving beyond the fear of what others will think of us and finding our voice, being visible, successful on our own terms, rather than comparing and measuring ourselves against others.   In a sense this is the ultimate  ‘courageous goal’ insofar as it takes great courage to address.

In Daring Greatly Brene Brown says we need to find the courage and willingness to engage,  to dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.   There’s a vulnerability in this that I’ve been tussling with the past couple of years while bringing Wise Goose into the world.  Dare I take a stand for what I believe?   Can I believe in this this passionately, even fiercely? Dare I be fully visible? What if no-one wants to come and play? What if I get excluded or ridiculed?

Last weekend on a Wise Goose Training Programme the question of vulnerability came up, it’s often seen as a negative; something we should not experience if we are to be ‘proper’ professionals.  It’s important to reframe this belief; vulnerability plays a huge role in being a coach, I’d go so far to say it is a necessity;  the more we are willing to show ourselves, to be open and genuine, the more we can create a space where our coachees can find their way to being wholehearted in their work and in their lives as a whole.

This isn’t about being a perfect coach, or helping the people we work with be perfect – it’s about leaning into our humanity, recognising we are imperfect and knowing that this being human and imperfect is what makes us beautiful.

If you haven’t already seen it, take 20 minutes to watch this inspiring  YouTube video of Brene Brown

2 Replies to “The Power of Vulnerability”

  1. So true! I just came from the module 2 training to become a couples therapist and all it’s about is to help the couple be in contact with vulnerability instead of defences, to be seen and see each other on that “level” helps creating and deepen a safe attachement, so vital in any relationship, I believe. Not only in a love relationship but also when coaching or being a manager.

    I sometimes train managers how to handle situations such as if the group do not have any confidence in the manager any longer. If the manager, dare to stay in contact with what really happens within, when he/she gets that message and also dare to express that, amazing shifts happen and often he/she gets a new chance. /Therese

  2. Excellent article which makes me and others think and with which I totally agree – something is changing in the world right now and this blog is part of it.

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