Over the last 3 years, I have shared more and more about myself publicly on this platform. I have shared my thoughts, my emotions and many of my vulnerabilities. I have written about my anxiety (Confessions of an anxious person), about not wanting children earlier in life and now having two (I never wanted kids… now I have two), my lack of confidence (Confidence is not a personality trait but a skill), my fear of flying and so much more (see all my articles here). But why? Why have I dared to be vulnerable publicly? I spent a few weeks thinking about this over my summer holidays and I have concluded on two key reasons:
1.Lack of role models:
I have spent my whole career looking for role models I could identify with without luck. I don’t feel that I fit the standard corporate mold and that I can identify with the existing examples of corporate success I know. Over the years, I have also noticed that many others felt the same. That myself and younger generations lack role models to identify with. So over the last years, I have decided to stop looking and just be me and all that this entails. And I have decided to share my thoughts, my emotions, my fears and my vulnerabilities to make the corporate world a little less stiff and also in hope that this could help others who can’t find role models they can identify with and help them realize that being your true self is more than good enough.
Additionally, being vulnerable enables me to:
Grow as I have to confront my insecurities, fears and emotions directly
Be authentic as I show my true self to others
Connect with people at a deeper level
Build my resilience as I learn to deal with how I feel in a more constructive way
Inspire others to open up and be their true selves at work
Self-love as I am learning to accept my imperfections and weaknesses
Improve my decision making as I more easily accept different perspectives and ideas from others
Reduce my stress as I don’t keep it all in
Continuously learn as I face challenges head on
Develop a more empathetic approach towards others as I accept their vulnerabilities more easily
As I became more vulnerable and more true to myself publicly, I also realized that vulnerability fosters trust and collaboration.
2. Fostering trust and collaboration
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection and/or judgment. I know how scary this can be, but this is also a way of showing others that we trust them enough to reveal our true selves. This act of trust often creates a reciprocal response leading to deeper connections and a sense of mutual trust. In short, by being authentic and transparent about our thoughts and feelings, we can break down barriers and build meaningful relationships with others. Additionally, doing so in the workplace can help create a more inclusive and safe environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas and vulnerabilities. This also allows people to feel safe enough to admit their mistakes or ask for help. This is critical in any work environment but so hard to attain. By allowing everyone to be vulnerable we can foster a culture of openness and trust.
And what happens when people are open and trusting one another? This usually leads to increased collaboration as team members are more likely to work together to solve problems and achieve goals.
To create such a culture, I recommend the following actions:
Dare be vulnerable: someone needs to start showing vulnerability for others to feel comfortable to do so too
Foster physiological safety by daring to admit mistakes and/or doubts
Provide feedback to everyone you work with
Promote the importance of work-life balance
Learn from failures and share your learnings with others
Include everyone and make room for different personalities and ways of working. And remember to take the time to listen to the quiet ones too.
I admit that being publicly vulnerable is not just intimidating but scary. I am always a little apprehensive when I publish any of my articles. When that is said, it is a practice that has the power to change how we perceive ourselves and how we work with others. Through vulnerability, we create a culture of trust and collaboration, which nurtures growth and success for everyone involved, both professionally and personally. I firmly believe it is time to let go of our fear of judgment and embrace vulnerability as a source of strength and authenticity.