The Power of Vulnerability – Cultivating courage, compassion, and connection

Pollen is a networking group and a networking newsletter for professionals written by Lars Leafblad (Bush Fellow) of KeyStone Search, an executive search firm in Minneapolis. A Pollen member posted a TED Talk by Brene Brown on their LinkedIn group site.

My curiosity got the best of me, and I found it very relevant and applicable to my fellowship experience.

Brene Brown is a “storyteller researcher” who talks about the role of vulnerability in our lives, and how it is both a source of shame and fear, but that it is also the central characteristic of those that feel a sense of worthiness and love and belonging.  Brown has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness.
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How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
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Brown shares what she learned through her research. In her thousands of interviews, data, journal entries received, she found those that felt that sense of worthiness had four common characteristics:

1) Courage…to be imperfect
2) Compassion…the kind that allows us to be kind to ourselves first.
3) Connection…as a result of authenticity, making a distinction between “who I should be versus who I really am”

Fourth, these individuals embraced vulnerability.  Those people believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. It was neither comfortable nor excruciating, but these individuals saw vulnerability as necessary.  How these people embraced vulnerability was in their willingness to do something without where there are no guarantees. Whether it’s asking for help from those we love; initiating something difficult or even something good; being turned down; giving bad news.

So what does it mean to embrace your vulnerability? To make it the source of self-worth and sense of belonging?

Brown suggests, Let yourself be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee. You see, to be vulnerable means to be alive.

And lastly, it’s important to believe and remember: We’re enough. When we work from that place that says “I’m enough”, then we can stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

See the video here: The Power of Vulnerability
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