Letting go of the reins- Vulnerability

For years I know I have tried to make myself as bulletproof as possible. Both in work, home and play. An approach to life similar to that of being a clock. Always dependable, never skipping a beat and like any good machine, always ready to be used whenever called upon. However, it has not worked. Vulnerability was about to creep up on me.

I came to a very obvious realisation over the past week that I still break. It is laughable now however, both business wise and personally I’ve had plenty of lessons: ending up in hospital after a bike crash, a severe battle with anaemia, being forced to relocate an office, losing business partners, about 4 race DNF’s and to recently having to cancel my daughters 1st birthday party (I was too sick to even host it). It’s taken me a while, but apparently there is a fair few holes in my armoury. I realised I had to let go of my bulletproof image, drop the shield and to not just ask for help, but also to happily take it too. I had to reach out to others and in asking I was about as vulnerable as I could be. I felt like I was sitting on the branch of a tree and I had no idea how to get down.

In reading a beautifully written book by Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, I have realised it is ok to ask for help. To put myself out there and say, “this is me; wounds, scars, faults and all.” There is no facade, it is me. My question to you is what image are you portraying to the world? Is it the true you or are you wearing a mask too?

Personally I pride myself being a pretty straight shooter. I don’t sugar coat things too well and have been told that I have the subtleness of a bowling ball more than once in  my life. My number one rule in life that I personally live by is to “do what I’ll say I do when I say I’ll do it.”  That can put me on a ledge in more ways than one and it can unintentionally offend others. In a lot of ways that is already rather exposed.

However, I have come to embrace the fact that this is me. What rules do you live by? Have you embraced what truly matters to you or are you frustrated in trying to conform to a world that just is not you? Frank Costello said it best in The Departed, “I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.”

What can you do to embrace Vulnerability? These are a few of the big lessons that I have already taken on board and I hope you do too:

  • Ask for help– Believe it or not, we don’t have to know all the answers and you don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room. Sometimes reaching out for assistance could save you a huge amount of mental anguish struggling over what to do. Ask for help and this could fast forward your progress as someone very close to you, your family, friend or co worker, may have already been on your exact journey. As a species we love to help others, please do not deny someone else the ability to help you when you need it. I think we could all sing the words to Lean on Me, let’s try living it.
  • Turn down the noise– Sure asking for advice is super important but please, do not overload yourself. Gone are the days to find an answer we needed to go to the library or dig out our parents “World Book” Encyclopaedia. Technology has made it very easy to get bombarded with information. Podcasts, morning “news,” newspapers, magazines, radio, audiobooks, Ted talks and also our well meaning friends (even Chiropractors) can sometimes be too quick to shout their expertise with a “this is what you should do” approach. Choose what direction you want to point your satellite so that you receive information from “trusted, qualified” sources. When Merissa was pregnant with Cain the best thing she was told was pick 3 sources of information (friends, books or otherwise). Trust these sources only as your head doesn’t need any more clouding. 
  •  The opposite of scarcity is not having everything– scarcity as a mind set is scary. Constant worry about not enough. Insert “not enough” before anything and you’ll stress. For example, not enough food, not enough money, not enough health, not enough strength and not enough time. Each one of those concepts by themselves could cause nightmares. However, abundance is not the answer. It is impossible to just go from having nothing to everything. We would just create more debt and despair as we would have had to sacrifice something else massive within our lives. The real answer is being comfortable with “just enough.” Having “just enough” time, money, energy and health is much more liberating. This stops the constant chase and allows you this wonderful ability to be happy and truly grateful for who you are and where you are. Starting a gratitude journal, a thankful dinner (ask your family what they are thankful for) or taking a few minutes each day to be thankful for what you DO have is a great place to start.
  •  Go all in– vulnerability means we have to be truly exposed. It is not something that you can do skin deep, it means looking through to your core. When you are “at one” with who you are, recognise it and you should be proud- YOU ARE AWESOME!!! Vulnerability says you must stand on the cliff, be the first one to back yourself and be ok with the fact that everyone else might not follow you. However, those that matter will! When you’re on the cliff and you look around, you will always see people mocking you, not understanding or criticising why you are even up there in the first place. These people are only ever watching you. Look back from the cliff and closer to where you are standing. Your “true friends” and supporters aren’t watching, they are right next to you ready to support you every step of the way. The hecklers will always be there, but it is you true friends that will help you soar when you leap from the cliff. True friends are “all in” with you. You don’t have to go it alone, but you do have to go. Trust that those that matter, will be there. “Those that mind don’t matter, those that matter, don’t mind”
  • Hold on– to both your beliefs but also to your genuine supporters. When vulnerable your beliefs will be challenged. Only by those you either don’t understand, don’t support or don’t matter. Added all together, these guys do not count. Friends, family and coaches alike can be your greatest support network. When truly vulnerable and you have stepped out on the ledge, remember we all “see further standing on the shoulders of giants.” 

This is me at my rawest and most exposed. However, being honest I feel so much better, like a weight has been lifted by doing it.

Personally, I’ll be embracing the help of coaches both in business and health, while leaning on friends and family. I’m dropping my lone wolf cloak. If you have any questions or examples of how you embrace your vulnerability please write below.

Finally, in accepting I don’t have all the answers- in the office if you know anybody or can think of a great use for our beautiful “gym room”  it’s 5.1m x 3.2m. I’m open to all ideas (and I definitely don’t have the answer)…