Failure and Vulnerability


Is it possible that failure can lead to vulnerability?  When we are in ‘the zone’ we are more likely to help others, to ‘do it all’ our ourselves, to be the givers because we can.  What happens when some major change hits our life.  All the sudden we find ourselves reaching out for help; even though we may not really want to.  

“What happens when people open their hearts?”…”They get better.” – Haruki Murakami.

Pain, failure and loss can drive us to toward healing if we allow them to.  They can push us past our comfort zone.  We may be surprised at who shows up for us and where we find comfort in unexpected places.

We had a series of events happen in our life starting with our 4 year old almost dying and the stress of our own financial loss (or my attempts to control what was) resulted in my own hospitalization.  This forced me into a state of vulnerability.  For the first time in my life I experienced failure in a very public way.  It was uncomfortable.  My confidence and sense of security were temporarily displaced.

The walls I created, by my need to be the perfect mother, wife, business owner and citizen came crashing down.  I had failed.  In the words of Brene’ Brown “Bye-Bye perfect.  Hello courage.”

 The courage to face who I was without those walls.  If I’m no longer the ‘producer’ then what is my value?  Will they still love me?  Am I enough?  Questions that were always playing in the background, but hidden by the walls of perfectionism I had built around them.

That’s the funny thing about walls.  Walls keep things out but they also keep things in.  I had trapped many parts of myself without even realizing it.

The beauty in all this terror, and tragedy, is that it gave room for people to show up for us.  A small group that shunned us spawned an entire community that embraced us.  All around people were thankful for the opportunity to give to us now that my ‘I can do it all’ walls finally let them in.

More recently, a friend took a risk and gave me the opportunity to be a part of their vision.  Someone he trusts is now my professional mentor; something I’ve always wanted, but again perfectionism blocked me from receiving.  I have the opportunity to contribute in a positive way to their vision, as well as improve my own professional acumen.

Being vulnerable means being open to hearing what others may think of us.  This is both uncomfortable and exceptionally rewarding.  Like going to the gym, seeing our weight for the first time, feeling the soreness of muscles we have neglected and coming to the realization just how far away we allowed ourselves to get from our ideal potential.

If we have the courage to push through this discomfort and keep going, even when we don’t want to, until we get to a place where we actually enjoy it; then we will experience the pay off.

Vulnerability is no different.  It’s  a choice.  Once we begin, it may hurt, but as we push through the discomfort, we are going to experience the pay off.  For me the payoff is tremendous.  I am more courageous.  I am able to express what I want without the need to make others wrong.  I experience joy.

The three hardest words for me to utter were “I need help”.  I saw asking for help as a sign of weakness.  Now I’ve come to realize it’s a great source of strength.  I don’t have any problems today, because I no longer put the world on my shoulders to carry.  I only have temporary inconveniences in my life, but they will pass.

“And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.” Brene’ Brown

To listen to Brene’s TED talk The power of vulnerability click below.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Charlie

    To ask for help is to be vulnerable. Giving is easy; it is controllable to the absolute. Vulnerability seems like a bottomless canyon, at first. However, to be a giver and never vulnerable enough to ask for help is, in my humble opinion, half-living. You gave me immense help and backup when I HAD to be vulnerable. In fact, you led me to a fuller perspective on life. I will be eternally grateful to you for that!

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