Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anxiety and vulnerability

Feeling anxious and exposed is not the same thing as allowing yourself to take a step towards vulnerability.
  • Vulnerability is possible when you allow yourself to take a risk while believing you have some support.
  • Anxiety comes from a fear of looking dumb and having it pointed out to your detriment.
  • Vulnerabilty can generate anxiety but it doesn't have to.
  • Anxiety can occur with or without taking any steps towards being more vulnerable.

I doubt many of us allow vulnerability easily - and we define it in different terms depending on the circumstances. Vulnerability for me includes compassion and being open to influence. It can include feeling more comfortable with rethinking initial judgments. Vulnerability is tested and tempered with trust. It is, as one woman explained to me: "The willingness to explore, to be open, to share, to listen, to be wrong, to not lead but to simply be present."

Mentoring must include some vulnerability as should any meaningful relationship in a personal or business context. Some feel that women are better at vulnerability than men; I'm not so sure. I think we're all just as anxious about it but women are mocked less for it. Though women in leadership are sometimes criticized as being too 'soft' for this very quality that makes them good leaders.
Vulnerability is part of risk taking in all its forms. Anxiety - if you're taking a measured and supported risk - doesn't have to join the party.

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