If Used Correctly, Your Vulnerability Can Actually Be Your Strongest Asset

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they’re never weakness." - Dr. Brené Brown

Vulnerability. Even the sight of this word written down can make our stomachs twist, brows sweat and heart rates skyrocket. We pride ourselves on “not even going there…” and think that by protecting ourselves from being vulnerable, we are doing ourselves a favor.

Because of our societal misunderstanding of vulnerability, we have been conditioned to think that if we are vulnerable, we are also automatically weak and fragile.

Because of this skewed understanding, we build walls up around our hearts, protecting ourselves from the big, bad world of vulnerability. We close ourselves to opportunities that breed pain and that are outside of our comfort zones; protecting ourselves and hardening our hearts.

This basic misunderstanding of vulnerability is keeping us from embracing life. When we pull away from situations that make us vulnerable, we are closing doors to possible growth and change.

There is no growth in comfort. The truest innovators and creators are people who have not only chosen to be vulnerable, but also have used that vulnerability to achieve new goals.

Vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown said in her famous 2012 Ted Talk:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

In a culture where resilience is reveled, we miss out on the genius that happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Consider Mark Zuckerberg. He took an enormous risk, dropped out of school and attempted to create a new form of communication that had not been landscaped before.

We often think of the payoff that his idea generated, but imagine the vulnerability he must have felt originally. It would have been easier and safer to wait on his idea and graduate first. Had he done this, it might have been too late.

The same thing goes for Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar, who started the company with less than $100 in her bank account. Or Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Pool, who created the Invisible Children organization, hoping that through their student documentary, they could make a difference in Uganda.

Imagine the vulnerability that is bred in these situations. Each is unique, but carries heavy degrees of uncertainty. Each one of these people embraced vulnerability and used it to propel themselves into a new experience.

In relationships, we give ourselves a pat on the back when we don’t allow vulnerability to creep in. But don’t let societal expectations fool you. The truest marker of how full of a life you are living is how often you allow yourself to be vulnerable to it.

If you have been vulnerable in a relationship, you are giving all of yourself to it and the other person. You are putting your heart on display, all for the possibility of love.

It may work out or it may not, but you can rest assured that because you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable, you are living without regret.

If you have lived in the world of vulnerability -- in your career, relationship, life decisions -- know that you are daring to do what others won’t. Your vulnerability is the aftermath of your strength of character, not a sign of weakness.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It