We are all vulnerable, but most of us don’t like to show or admit it. We equate vulnerability with weakness, and we don’t want to appear weak. In fact, we put a lot of energy into not appearing weak, and we say and do things to try and convince others that we are strong even when we are not.
Reflecting on my own experience, I’ve identified five areas that are common sources of vulnerability:
It can be scary to admit we don’t have the answer, but the older we get and the more we learn, the more we realize we can never know it all. Admitting when we don’t know, rather than bluffing, builds trust and respect.
None of us wants to fail, but we all make mistakes every day. We often look for reasons and excuses for our mistakes, but learning to take responsibility for them is a sign of maturity and confidence.
Acknowledging we were wrong, either with our actions or with their impact, can make us feel vulnerable and defensive. Apologizing is extraordinarily difficult for only two words, but offering “I apologize” authentically builds relationships, fosters completeness, and underscores the value of honesty.
If you think you are supposed to know, you will be reluctant to ask for help—even when you need it—for fear of being seen as inadequate or incompetent. Learning from those with more experience, though, is the best way to build your skillset and develop new professional contacts.
We all have fears, and one of our greatest is that others will see them. Regardless of how much we try to hide them, though, our fears will eventually become visible. But what are we so afraid of? Most people will see our fears as a basic element of our humanity, not a weakness.
Pushing Your Thinking