How many times have you numbed your feelings so they weren’t real? Are you successful in your career because you don’t show emotion? Are you living in a shell of yourself? Have you been told by male colleagues that showing emotions is a weakness? If you said yes to any of these then I am here to show you that Success, Living, and Happiness come from being vulnerable. To show you that vulnerability is successful.
Vulnerability is the state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or hammered, either physically or emotionally.
Why would anyone want to be vulnerable with a definition like this… said no one. Definitely not me, my number one motto in life was to NOT be exposed emotionally to anyone or anything.
“Vulnerability is not weakness; It’s our most accurate measure of courage” Brene Brown
Farm kids show no weakness
Growing up on a farm with 2 older brothers there was no time to be vulnerable. As a young girl, I did anything to not show weakness.
The summer before kindergarten, my brothers and I were playing in the years on a hay elevator.
A hay elevator is like a big teeter-totter that goes 16 feet up in the air. My brother challenged me to hang from the elevator at the highest point. We would hang off of it while the other held onto the other end and you would go 16 feet up into the air. At 5 1/2 sure I would go on it but only if they promised me to only go as high as a real teeter-totter. Of course, they didn’t. As I hung in the air I begged for them to bring me down. Then I told them if they didn’t let me down I would let go and do it myself. So instead of showing weakness I let go and fell 16 feet. Off to the doctor I went with a broken arm.
My first round of not wanting to be vulnerable so I took my own route with the possibility of being hurt.
To Be in Control
Vulnerability is not something I ever wanted to be. I wanted to always be in charge, in control, and never show weakness or emotion. As I look back now not wanted to be vulnerable made me weak. All of my emotions would build up until I lost my temper, act irrationally, or all my pent up emotions would come out at once with crying at all the wrong times. Being successful to me was not being vulnerable.
Vulnerable in a Man’s World
My career started in 1994, as a young female in agriculture a male-dominated industry. My first job was in sales, I was given a car, a notebook, and set out to cold call on farmers. Drive-up a driveway with all the confidence and answers in the world. The number one rule was to never show weakness. At this time I didn’t know that really showing up was vulnerability and that would help me be successful.
1996 I started my journey in my commodity trading career. Being the only female I knew in my circle meant to be in control, always have the answer, never act like a girl, and never lose. In trading, there is no time for weakness or emotions. If you showed any of that and didn’t win 90% of the time would be career suicide.
Infertility and Vulnerability
After suffering many years of infertility my twins were born in 2001. During 4 invitro treatments once again no time to show weakness to anyone. D Trading hours were from 9:30-1:15 it was a struggle to keep up and definitely not a time to be vulnerable. It felt like every woman around me was pregnant, having babies and I was the weak one.
Returning from maternity leave I was on a 10:00 AM conference call with all of my peers across North America. There was a trading position that was out of the money. The director asked me what I was going to do about it. My reply was “I don’t know as this was my first day back after being off 13 weeks” The answer back was not good, you better figure it out and call me by noon. To the person that called me out, he wasn’t showing up either. He was showing up show has domineering. He wasn’t being vulnerable as he had the same thought as me. Vulnerability is not a success.
2008 we moved our family to Iowa for my job. The twins were 7. The move would bring us closer to my parents but we were leaving behind in Minnesota my sister, 1-year-old nephew, and Bert. Over the years I had seen male colleagues move and it felt like they happily plopped their family into a new location and came to work. So, that is what I did.
The new job brought its own challenge. I missed my sister, my target runs with Bert and working int the same off as Bert. No time for the vulnerability so my philosophy has been to keep steam rolling over everything until it all went away. The furthest thing from my mind was that vulnerability is successful.
Vulnerability and the Impact on Your Daughter
Unfortunately, my 7-year-old daughter was watching her mommy and trying to do the same thing. We ended up in therapy, which was a big decision as I always thought therapy meant weakness and you couldn’t “take care” of yourself. In the first session, I sat on a couch with my daughter. Almost immediately my daughter broke down in gut-wrenching sobs, that I never want to hear again as it was so heart breaking. My daughter said she was so sad that I was sad and she missed her aunt. Wait, what how does my 7 year old daughter know I was sad? It hit me like a ton of bricks. My lack of showing emotions and steam rolling over them my 7 year old daughter was trying to do the same thing. She saw through me.
Seeing through the Armor
I was walking around in armor, in a shell, not 100% showing up in my life and it was holding me back and I didn’t even know it. Between overeating and drinking wine every night I was numbing myself so I didn’t have to show up. By numbing, I was also missing out on the joy with my daughter. From “protecting” myself I thought my daughter wouldn’t see it.
Doubt that Vulnerability is Successful
The biggest change in my life came when I was enrolled in a Leadership Academy and was assigned a business coach. The first coaching call was not what I expected when I was asked “How are you?”
“Well, fine of course.”
“What does fine mean to you?
What kind of question is this on a “Business” coaching call. I told him fine is fine. The call had already started late because I was working on something important and we had 20 minutes before my next meeting. Get to the point tell me what I need to work on so we can all move on.
“Your manager thinks you are not fine”
What? My trading position was making lots of money and I was doing my job.
You want me to talk about me?
Business Coach “Let’s talk about you.” Okay, this is a business coaching call and not an about me call. I was confident at this point they were looking for a weakness to use against me that I wasn’t good enough at this job. That I wasn’t capable to sit in a board room of 9 men and me. My crazy brain took me to the thought they wanted me to be vulnerable so they had proof to replace me with a man.
All of this happened before I even knew who Brene Brown was, her infamous Ted Talk and her research.
To read more about Vulnerability research.
If you haven’t seen it and it’s always good to watch again.
Vulnerability is Successful
Little did I know that this call was a pivotal point in my career and life. This call would start my journey to becoming a true leader. This call would make me a better wife, mom, and friend. Most importantly this call would be the start of a better version of me. This call would show me that being vulnerable wasn’t a bad thing.
Call Your Best Friend
I left that call with 3 things to focus on: One of them was to Call my Best Friend Bert, share how I was feeling, and stop hiding from her. My big goals were to be a better Mother and a Peaceful and Calm Leader.
Peaceful and Calm Leader
Being a Peaceful and Calm Leader
I am Enough
Do you believe, “I am enough”?
Think of an important relationship in your life. What is one specific, measurable thing you can do within the next 24 hours that would be an act of vulnerability in that relationship? Will you do it?
My call out to you is what are you going to do to show up in your life? Truly show up? Write down 1 thing you want to focus on showing up or 1 person you want to talk to and show you. Show
yourself that Vulnerability is Successful.