I remember a moment when LinkedIn wrote to 25,000 people a couple of years ago inviting them to publish an article. I wondered at the time how many people accepted the invitation. I did, and as my finger hovered over the ‘publish’ button that first time, I hesitated (but not for too long) and then I clicked. While the reaction of many people was appreciated, my own reaction was interesting and unexpected in the moment. As I clicked, a huge sense of vulnerability washed over me. And has gotten in my way since, until now.

That little action of clicking ‘publish’ on LinkedIn left me feeling very insecure. And vulnerable. And now here I go again with my blog launch. In amongst all of the great benefits and positives of exposure, brand building, etc. it also meant opening myself up to feedback – good and bad. It meant putting myself out there, in writing, for people to criticise, judge and comment. Of course, as many of us do, these negative thoughts sprang to mind first before I reminded myself why I wrote the article in the first place, because some people might enjoy it and I hoped, take something positive away from it.

Does this resonate with you? Can you recall a moment recently where you felt vulnerable? What happened? Did the feeling take over and stop you moving forward? Or did you ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ to quote Susan Jeffers.

That moment brought to mind one of my favourite TED talks by Brené Brown on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ and I thought about the courage that we all sometimes need to find to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and to go ahead and put ourselves out there. (By the way, make sure to watch Brené Brown’s second talk on ‘Listening to Shame’ for her experience of vulnerability after that first TED talk!)

So what is it that holds us back when we feel vulnerable? In very many cases, it’s when change is on the horizon. The following factors very often come into play:

What if I fail? But…what if you succeed?

What if people judge me? But…what if people applaud you?

What if people find me out? But…what if people appreciate your experience?

What if I succeed? And…how will you handle that?

Vulnerability and the fear of change, the fear of putting yourself out there often go hand in hand. It could be the fear of having a ‘crucial conversation’. It could be the fear of making a major decision where the stakes are high. It could be making a major change in your life – or for that matter, a minor change but one that feels like a big step. What if it doesn’t go as planned?

These fears, these limiting beliefs are what hold us back from moving onto something better.

How can you find the courage to allow yourself to feel vulnerable? Let me suggest ten simple strategies that you can draw on to steam forward:

  1. Be clear about your goals and know that with every small step you’re moving closer to them. Be clear about the reasons that you want to take a certain action.
  2. Believe in what you’re doing – clarity about your choices and why you are doing what you’re doing.
  3. Build your emotional resilience – know that the discomfort is a temporary state and will pass.
  4. Know that allowing yourself to be vulnerable and show vulnerability builds trust with colleagues and clients. The most authentic leaders are not afraid to show vulnerability.
  5. Surround yourself with your cheerleaders who support you in your endeavours – don’t listen to the naysayers. Remind yourself of your strengths, knowledge and expertise and draw on them to fuel your courage.
  6. Know who you are and how that feeds into your personal brand (read more). Remind yourself that how you engage with people says as much about who you are as what you do.
  7. Know that feeling vulnerable is ok, it’s not just you. Accept the feeling as part of growing and moving out of the comfort zone instead of resisting it. I know this is easier said than done. Some people are just comfortable with that. Many are not.
  8. Adopt a growth mindset. Know that you can only succeed or learn – both are great outcomes as long as you make sure you grow from what you learn.
  9. Don’t resist the discomfort – let yourself be ok with the vulnerability, that uncomfortable feeling that you physically feel in your stomach. It’s ok and normal but if you can know that it’s ok to feel like that and let yourself feel the discomfort and vulnerability, it’s less about moving out of your comfort zone and more about expanding/growing the zone that you are comfortable in. (If you’re not comfortable with moving out of your comfort zone.
  10. And most importantly, take the time to stop, reflect, re-focus and re-energise as this is what’s going to help you to set yourself up to succeed.

I’d love to hear your stories of when you found the courage to be vulnerable and how it paid off. Or Contact us to find out more about our group and 1:1 coaching and mentoring programmes.

Helping you to find your mojo.

XXX Clearbird

P.S. If this blog resonates with you or think it would resonate for someone you know, please like, share, tweet or forward on whatever media you like. E-mail is still good! I’d love to hear from you.