Vulnerability is power

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I did it. I said I was afraid. Afraid of what? Let me tell you…
I have mentioned before that I lift weights with a trainer, and he has programs that last about ten weeks. The last few weeks of the current program involved lifting increasing percentages of our max weight. Last week was the second to last week, so it was very difficult, and I knew this week would be even worse. Now I like to test my limits, and I am not the only woman in the Athlete program at my gym for no reason. But I was scared. I struggled the week before and I knew the weights were going to get heavier, and I was starting to freak out. By Monday I was dreading going to the gym because I knew it was going to be insanely tough.
I love the gym. It has been my sanctuary for several years, and I was disturbed by the fact that I did not want to go. So I decided to put myself out there and tell my trainer I was afraid to squat the weight I was scheduled to do. And you know what happened? He said, “You cannot squat that kind of weight in fear” and lowered the weight. He said that fear was my body’s response to knowing my limits for training and safety. I breathed a sigh of relief! And I ended up squatting the weight I should have started with, but I felt GREAT. My gym had once again become my sanctuary, and my trainer (who is the one of the best guys in the whole world) made me feel empowered in my decision.
I put myself out there-I was vulnerable when I told my trainer I was scared. And when you use the word vulnerable, the name Brené Brown MUST be brought up. “Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 15 million views” (www.brenebrown.com). If you have not seen her Ted talk on vulnerability, I HIGHLY recommend it. And if you like that, then I recommend her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. The phrase Daring Greatly is from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Powerful, isn’t it? Now I didn’t squat my max weight, and I don’t feel as if I failed. Why? Because I could have opted out of the workout all together, or maybe not even gone to the gym—but I didn’t. I showed up in the arena, I strove valiantly, and I felt the triumph of achievement. Vulnerability is power.
So the next time you are hesitant to ask for help, express your emotions, or show vulnerability in general, remember why Brené Brown feels it worth the risk: “…vulnerability is indeed at the core of difficult emotions, but it is also the birthplace of love and belonging, joy, creativity and innovation, adaptability to change and accountability – the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”* That makes it worth it to me—what about you?
*www.impatientoptimists.org. “Leadership Series: Vulnerability and Inspired Leadership”, Brené Brown, November 19, 2012.

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