Okay, honesty and morality, such as right and wrong and good and bad. Hm. I’m not the biggest fan of right and wrong and good and bad. Why?
Because, good and bad and right and wrong, like happiness and sadness go together. Meaning?
That you cannot have goodness without badness, nor can you have rightness without having wrongness. Striving, then, for such concepts, such as being right and good, is folly, and can cause pain and suffering.
We are all going to be both bad and good, and wrong and right sometimes. Inevitable. Hm.
Let’s try something different.
How about we think about integrity as whole and complete. Here is the next part of the definition from Oxford.
Well, a state of being whole and complete, or undivided, increases the workability inside of the concept of integrity.
It takes away the judgment that can be found, and cast in the previous portion of the definition focused on good and bad, and right and wrong. Yep.
Therefore, if we think about integrity as being whole and complete, and a matter of that which is said, or our word, integrity stays within us; an, internal concept, if you will.
Here you go.
“We distinguish integrity as a phenomenon of the objective state or condition of an object, system, person, group, or organizational entity, and define integrity as: a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, perfect condition.” Werner Erhard
When we start the conversation about integrity as an understanding that we are all just as we are supposed to be, today, right now, just so. We start from a place of understanding, not judgment. Important.
Further, adding our word as the highest state of integrity, there is always workability. How? Simple. Communication.
Meaning, that if we are going to be out of integrity, we simply communicate this fact. Sounds simple, yes?
Well, many people struggle with this concept. Really. Think about how many times someone said they were going to do something, and they didn’t.
And, then think about how often they communicated to you they weren’t going to do it. Yep. Happens all the time. To me, to you, to everyone.
And, this is not a judgment. It just is. We are still whole and complete, regardless. We all are. Having integrity within this conversation means creating an intention to do as you say, and when you can’t or choose not to, to communicate about it. That’s all.
Why does this conception of integrity work?
Here are three reasons why.
1. Release Right and Wrong
When we know that we are whole and complete, just as we are, right now, in this moment, we can release notions of right and wrong. Integrity in this conception is not about being right or being wrong.
It’s about being our word, and when we are unable to do something we said we would, we simply communicate about it. That’s it.
Releasing right and wrong from our notions of integrity decreases stress and anxiety about trying to live up to an ideal that no human can really live up to, and need not try.
2. Let Go of Good and Bad and Right and Wrong
Being whole and complete also means that we can let go of ideas we have about being good and right, or being bad and wrong.
Integrity in this conversation has nothing to do with ideas of good and bad, or right and wrong, which is helpful. As was aforementioned, we are all “good and right” and “bad and wrong” sometimes.
Letting go of being good and bad, and right and wrong also reduces stress we might feel about trying to be something other than we are right now; and, may also reduce stress-associated anxiety that we may feel striving for conceptions of integrity that are impossible to fulfill.
3. Accept the Reality of Integrity
We are all out of integrity sometimes. Everyone says they’ll do something, and then is unable to follow through for some reason. Remember, integrity is not about being perfect, nor is it about being right and being good.
It’s about doing what we say, and then if we are unable, communicating about it.
Understanding and practicing integrity this way also reduces stress and anxiety people have about trying to live up to a perfect ideal of integrity that does not actually exist.
You are already a perfect human being, just as you are. Really. The iteration of you that you are today is exactly who you are supposed to be. How do I know that? Well, because that is the iteration you are today.
It is not the iteration that will exist tomorrow, nor in the next moment. It works that way.
You are whole and complete just as you are. And, your word is all the integrity you need. Chasing after other conceptions of integrity, such as being right and good is a never ending merry-go-round that will only ever leave you dizzy, stressed, and anxious.
7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
How often do you run from here to there, and back, checking the clock on the wall, in the kitchen, on your wrist, or on your phone? Yep, normal, we all do it, or, rather, have done it.
Time is such an important part of our life. We construct our whole lives, in fact, around it. Yep. Time. When we get up, when we eat, when we work, how we work, when we sleep. All of it.
Yet, time also provides people with tons of stress and anxiety. Really. How often have you said, or heard, or both, there’s just not enough time in the day? Yep. We’ve all said it, say it, and have heard many, or, rather, most people say it.
Phew. It’s tiring. Really.
I remember a time in my life where I was more concerned about what time it was, then about what I was doing with my time. Maybe you can relate?
Either way, time is not what we think it is.
Time is actually socially constructed. Meaning, it doesn’t even really exist, except for that we create it, agree upon it, and as has been aforementioned, organize our lives around it.
A social construction, you ask? Sure. Here you go.
Pronunciation /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/
A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.
A social construction is something that is constructed and agreed upon by a group of people, of which time, as in the continued progress of existence and events as in the past, present, and future, is one. Phew.
You may now ask, well, there is a past, present, and future, therefore time exists. Yet, I would invite you to really think about that. Does the past really exist, or the future for that matter?
Think about what you are doing right now. Does the past exist in the present moment? Does the future? Nope. They don’t.
The only thing that ever really exists is the present moment. Right now; and, then right now, and now. That’s it.
Therefore time is in many ways irrelevant, an illusion actually. Yet, we continue to create our whole lives around it. Pretty powerful.
You may now be saying. Okay. Fine. Yet, why is understanding time as a social construction important? Very well.
Let’s take a look at
7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
1. Increased Flexibility
When we hold time as a social construct, we are more flexible because we understand that there is an infinite amount of time to do all that we’d like to do. Really.
We become more flexible as we continue to consider time as something that we can choose to release ourselves from. We know at a different level that, yes, we need to move our work and lives forward, however, we also know that there is plenty of time to do so.
2. Less Stress
As we become more flexible, holding the awareness that time is socially constructed, which takes practice, we then realize that we can release the stress that we create about time-bound situations and events. Yep.
We can release that stress, and replace it with a renewed interest in being present. Present to everything in our lives, in each and every moment. Precious.
3. Reduced Anxiety
Holding time within ourselves differently, which creates less stress, also reduces our overall anxiety levels. There are so many people on this planet that have high levels of anxiety.
Yes, about lots of things, yet, considering time as one of the most important aspects of our lives causes a ton of that stress and, yep, related anxiety.
Yet, releasing that time-bound stress, releases the anxiety. Very helpful.
4. Greater Understanding
We also learn more about ourselves, and then have a greater understanding of, yes, ourselves, and about all people. We can connect with people on another level entirely. Why?
Because, we have connected to ourselves on an entirely different level. It works that way. We become more aware of our time-bound habits, and then can see them more clearly in ourselves and in others. Helpful.
5. More Grace
As we are more aware of our own behaviors related to time, and practice releasing the stress and anxiety that develops as a product of time-bound thinking, we can give ourselves more grace. And?
We can also extend that grace to others. If there is one thing on this planet we can all us more of, it’s grace. Given to ourselves and to each other. Important.
6. Deeper Compassion
Along with granting ourselves more grace, we also develop a deeper level of compassion for the human condition. Most all of us are socialized to place importance on time.
With that knowledge, we can release ourselves from any blame or shame for the stress we’ve caused ourselves and others at the expense of time-bound thinking and acting.
And, as we deepen the compassion we have for ourselves, we also deepen the compassion we can extend toward others. Lovely.
7. More Peace
With our practice of holding time differently in our awareness, we also have more peace. More peace about all aspects of our lives that we once associated with time-bound situations and events, and the associated outcomes, or results.
And, when we have more peace, we can also extend that peace out to everyone. Phew. That is important.
Alright, there are 7 Reasons Why Considering Time as a Social Construction is Important to Your Life. Fun.
Remember, time is only important, when we create that importance. I’m not saying that we don’t take our commitments and agreements that are time-bound seriously.
Those time-bound commitments and agreements are very important. My days are full of them; and, I mean full. All day, every day.
Yet, we don’t have to associate time-bound commitments and agreements with a stressful conception of time. It’s a paradox, like most things in life.
You can both hold time as a socially constructed illusion and as an important aspect of your life in regard to meeting our commitments and agreements.
It is really in between the two, considering ourselves as bound in time and not, where you have the power to live, laugh, and love with less stress and anxiety, and way more flexibility, understanding, grace, compassion, and peace.
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” Mae Jemison
There. When we remain curious, we are actively acknowledging there is much more in the world to know about than is known. Yes, by us, and by everyone else for that matter.
I’ve written many times about the known and unknown, and, essentially, that it is the space between the two where people choose to grow or not.
We can choose to go back towards what is comfortable, known, and remain as we are today; or, we can choose to go towards what may be uncomfortable, unknown, and grow.
Those that are naturally curious, are intrigued by the smallest things in life. Things that other people might pass right by without even noticing.
In fact, I think people that are curious have a keen awareness of themselves, which means they also have a keen awareness of the world around them.
Alright, then, here are
7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset
1. Recognition of the unknown
When we know that there is much more to learn about the world, and everyone in it, than we actually know, we are instantly curious.
Being curious is about being real with ourselves about all that we know, and all that we don’t.
Just writing that last paragraph makes me smile. Smile because I know everytime I leave my house, there is an opportunity to learn something from someone. Always curious. Fun.
2. Replacing what is known with new knowns
And, as we learn more about the world from other people, we get to replace some of our knowns with new knowns. How?
Well, humans often get stuck inside of limited thinking. Thinking that because they are an expert in a certain field, that their learning is complete. No so.
Every topic and subject is incomplete from a perspective of all there is to learn. Really. Every topic and subject.
When you are in a conversation with someone that proposes that their perspective is the final perspective on a topic, you can smile internally knowing that is not so, and remain curious about the topic.
I guarantee you there is more to learn and to know.
3. Remaining hopeful about the future
When we are curious, we are naturally hopeful about the future. We have to be. Why? Because being curious means believing in a future where growth and new possibilities flourish.
More, it means actively creating that future every day. One idea, goal, or dream and corresponding action at a time. Beautiful.
4. Recreating ourselves each day
Curiosity, like all things, starts within. When we do our internal work, inquiring into why we think and feel the way we do, we are actively interested in recreating ourselves often. Every day, in fact. Really.
In each moment lives the possibility of something new, a new possibility for that moment, and then, yes, the corresponding context, and the greater world. It starts with us, and goes out from there.
5. Regenerating our sense of self in each moment
And, as we recreate ourselves, we also create a new sense of self. We let go of the person we were, and welcome the developmental iterations that will come as a byproduct of our own curiosity and interest in ourselves.
And, guess what?
When we treat ourselves with this kind of respect, that respect, along with the curiosity and interest, go out to others. It will infect them with a renewed sense of who they are as a human being.
Wonderful to watch and be a part of.
6. Reinventing the contexts we engage with
As we recreate ourselves each day, we also reinvent the contexts that we’re engaged with. Why?
Because, as we recreate ourselves, we are leading a transformational process that will affect everyone around us. It has to.
And, as we reinvent our contexts, we get to invite other people to participate in our curiosity. Our curiosity, yes, about ourselves, first, and then our curiosity with other people, the work they do, the possibilities we see as a product of the work we are doing in ourselves. Much fun.
7. Remembering our truth
When we remember our truth about the human being we are, and the future human being we are actively creating each day, we stay curious. Curiosity is a transformational practice.
When we remain curious, we get stuck less often. We feel more connected to ourselves and to everyone else around us.
We are, in effect, living our lives as a child would, full of wonder and hope. Knowing that dreams do come true, because we actively see them come true all the time.
When we live our truth, we see the world through a whole new lens; and, part of that lens is a lens of the curious being that we are all meant to be.
When we are actively curious, question all things, we are living in a growth mindset, which really just means that we are open to learning about all things from all people.
We are open, flexible, and eager to learn.
A growth mindset is about learning as much as we can, and then using that knowledge to create the life we want to live. Each and every day.
Curiously pondering everything around us, wondering, dreaming, and then taking all that we learn and applying it to our lives.
What is your purpose? Do you know, or have you ever considered it; I mean, really considered it? Like, written it down, reflected upon it, and used it to interact with people you know, or meet?
Well, I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about purpose. And, just today it dawned on me that authenticity is a very important concept to the development of your purpose. Really. How, you ask. Well, let’s define our terms, and then we’ll discuss it.
Alright, there we go. Now, we can see from these definitions that purpose is about setting an intention to achieve something; and, that authenticity is about being true to who we are.
Because in order to set an intention to create your purpose, you must be true to who you really are; not the person you were, or the person people tell you you are. A very important distinction.
If you create a purpose that is imbued with ideas about your past-self or with ideas about the person you believe people want you to be, your purpose will not inspire you, nor will it inspire anyone else.
Okay. Let’s take a look at
10 Reasons Why Developing Your Purpose is Dependent on Being Authentic
In order to be inspired, and to inspire others, you must believe in your purpose with both your head and heart. A must. When we develop a purpose that is connected to our authentic-self, the human being we know ourselves to be, we are instantly inspired.
Living a purpose-driven life is hard work. Really, it is. It takes dedication. And, when we create our purpose directly from our authentic-self, we have a deep well of dedication. A well, that, at times, seems like it will never empty. A beautiful feeling.
When we are true to who we are, we are inspired, yes, and we also have deep passion for all that we do. Why? Because when we are authentic, the purpose we create will naturally connect to all aspects of our lives. Work, family, friends, everyone, and everything.
When you are living your purpose, you will meet many challenges. It’s part of it. However, when our purpose is connected to our authentic-self, you will get up every time you fall down. Every time. You will persist under any and all circumstances. You must have created your purpose from your authentic-self to be present to this level of persistence.
A natural byproduct of living a purpose-driven life is developing more resilience. You have to when you are constantly challenged in pursuit of your purpose. When your purpose is created from your authentic self, you will develop more resilience than you ever thought possible. Amazing.
When we are connected to our authentic-self and purpose, we are also interested in developing and growing. We are open with people about who we really are. And, when we are open and true to who we are, opportunities for growth sprout everywhere.
When we are authentic and living a purpose-driven life, opportunities to be vulnerable arsie often. These opportunities are driven by you, and those you surround yourself with. When we are vulnerable, people we are close to feel safe and also venture into vulnerable spaces. Beautiful.
When you are true to who you are, love arises more often. Love for yourself and the human being you are, and love for those around you. When you are authentic and living your purpose, you feel more love, are more love, and give out more love. It just happens.
When you are authentic, and are creating and moving your purpose into the world, you feel more complete. You are more complete. Notions of hiding parts of yourself begin to disappear, and you give yourself and everyone around you that completeness. They can feel it, and know it, as you practice being the human being you are.
Authenticity and purpose align to create more drive. More drive to continue to create your purpose from the space of your authentic-self. And, when you are driven, the people you choose to surround yourself with are also driven. Driven to change the world one action at a time. A wonder.
It is amazing how being the authentic human being we know ourselves to be can transform so many aspects of our lives. It can, and does.
When we remove the barriers that have been handed to us and created by ourselves, we can begin to live the life we’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about. How?
Dedicate time to yourself, for yourself. Reflect upon the work you are doing right now. Is it the work you’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about? Yes, wonderful. And, if not?
Begin to let go of the person that you were socialized to believe you are. Really. Begin to let go of those concepts, restrictions, and limitations, and get in touch with your authentic-self.
Once you are in touch with your authentic-self, begin to create the life you’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about. Create your new life by taking one step at a time toward getting in touch with your authentic-self.
As you take these steps toward your authentic-self, your purpose will show up. Why? Because, your purpose already lives inside of you. Inside of the authentic-self you know yourself to be.
Who are you, and what do you do? How much do you enjoy a typical exchange like this with another human being? Oh, hello, my name is, insert any name you like here, who are you; or, what do you do? Sound familiar?
We get these types of questions all the time. And, did you know that how you answer this question is, well, rather powerful? Why?
Because when we describe ourselves in language, we are, in effect, solidifying our identity as the person we are today.
Yet, what you may or may not know, or have only general cursory knowledge about, is that your identity, my identity, all identities are socially constructed.
Meaning that they are a product of socialization; they are productions caught in a particular time and place. Bound, if you will, in language to ideas we have about who we believe we are, about who we were told, and or are told we are.
Yet, because identities, like all things, are constructed in language, and are embedded in particular geographic, cultural, and societal contexts, they are not fixed. Again, they are not fixed.
They are, rather, fluid, and understanding this fact is important to everyone’s development, and, yes, to our lives as well. Why? Well, many reasons, however, for now, let’s take a look at
7 Reasons Why Understanding Your Identity as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
Empowered – when we understand that our identities, like all of life and the world, are socially constructed, we are immediately empowered. Empowered to let go of preconceived notions of who we were told we are, are told we are, or think we are. When we subscribe to a fixed identity, instead of one that is socially constructed, we are limited. And, limitation is stressful. However, when we subscribe to the idea that our identities are socially constructed, we are unlimited, able to create the identity and person we dream to be.
Engaged – when we let go of our previously conceived ideas about who we are, we also let go of the types of people that we are “supposed” to engage with, be friends with, and partner with. Also limited. Yet, when we let go of those limitations, we free ourselves to engage with anyone that sparks our interest. Anyone.
Unlimited – when we get clear on our identity, both the identity we were handed, and the one that we created around that identity, we break the limitations that were handed to us, and the ones that we’ve created for ourselves. The only limitations we have are the ones we continue to believe in and the ones we continue to create for ourselves.
Reality – reality becomes more clear. We can see where social institutions, like the family, government, and educational system, have placed limitations on our lives. And, we can make choices to break free from these pre imposed limitations. How? By creating a new life, a new way to conceive of the human being we are today, and the one that we want to become.
Freed – when we can clearly see the limitations we’ve been living within, bound by stories we have about who we are as a human being, we can make different choices. Make different choices to free ourselves from those stories. When we are free from these stories, we can act in new ways, and become new. Seriously. We become a new iteration of the human being we’ve always been, living free from the constraints we were given, or created.
Energized – when we let go of the ideas we have about who we are, we can create a more energized life. A life that is present to all that we have, and want to create. In this kind of life, you will be more often tired, yet, overall, you will have more energy, and feel more regularly energized.
Loved – when we realize that we are not the human being someone has always told us we must be, we are free to love ourselves for the human being we are right now, and the human being we are going to become. And, guess what? When we begin to love ourselves more deeply, we can love others more deeply. We get deeper connections with those we choose to have in our lives. Pretty special.
Phew, that went quick. Obviously, there are many more to add to this list, yet those are some of the most powerful reasons why understanding that your identity is socially constructed is important to your life.
You may be asking, okay, now what?
Well, you can, right now, begin to get clear on the fact that everything you know to be true about the world has been handed to you.
Handed to you by the various social institutions that make up any society or culture, such as parents, educators, friends, churches, healthcare, and the government, to name a few.
When we understand that all knowledge, thus all identities, are socially constructed, we have the power to let go, and create, learn, and recreate.
Let go of ideas and concepts that don’t help move us forward as human beings, and create, learn, and recreate new ideas and concepts that do move us forward as human beings. Fun.
Hard work? Yep, for sure.
Letting go of ideas and concepts we’ve held onto for years is extremely difficult. Yet, know that the reason it is so hard is that we, as humans, like habit, like patterns. We are comfortable with the known.
And, what we know, is how we think, and then act. Yet, when we act from a space of outdated ideas and concepts that no longer serve us, it is time to let go. And, guess what?
Though it is difficult, it does get easier. And, after time, you will wonder why you hadn’t made the choice to let go of those stories, ideas, and concepts much earlier.
Hm. At this moment, I’m actually quite surprised about how similar these definitions are. More similar than I would have even predicted.
Do you see it? Either way, it’s okay, let’s take a deeper look at both courage and humility and see what we get.
7 Things You Can do to Develop Courage and Humility
As I’ve written about previously, people often mistakenly believe that there are people that have courage and there are people that don’t. Like it is a developmental trait that some have and others don’t.
However, courage is like any other skill set. Meaning that it can be developed. Yep, it’s true. And, guess what? As you develop courage, you also develop humility. Yep, also true.
Here, then, are 7 ways you can develop courage.
Develop a growth mindset – meaning, be available and open to learning all there is to learn. When you have a growth mindset you realize that there is much more to learn than is known, and you are eager to learn. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. Meaning unavailable and closed to learning. Think flexible versus rigid. When we are flexible, we go with the flow, receive what others have to give us, and then we give what we have back to them. When we are eager to develop a growth mindset, courage follows because contexts where growth mindsets flourish are about development and transformation.
Grow your comfort zone – continuing to practice getting outside of your comfort zone is important. Important to your development, and to the development of courage. When we are outside of our comfort zone, in that moment, we are doing and modeling courage.
Embrace and practice vulnerability – I’ve written several articles recently about vulnerability. Like your comfort zone, when you embrace your own vulnerability and practice being vulnerable, you are immediately being courageous. And, guess what? The more you practice vulnerability, the more courageous you become.
Practice collaboration – collaborative contexts are naturally vulnerable contexts as they are about being open and flexible, learning, and development. When you are collaborating, really collaborating, you are practicing courage; and, the more collaborative contexts you engage in, the more courageous you will become.
Create innovation – innovation and courage go hand in hand. They have to, because innovative contexts are imbued with vulnerability, growth, collaboration, and transformation. Innovative contexts are courageous in nature. The more innovation you create, the more you are being courageous, and the more your courage will grow.
Take risks – though humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking is needed and necessary. Taking risks ensures you develop into the iteration of yourself where you can give the most back to the world. Really. Because humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking feels scary, so when you take risks you will develop courage. The more risk, the more courage will develop.
Face your fears – every human on this planet is afraid. Yes, there is a continuum of fearfulness, yet know that you are not alone in being fearful of things. Fear is a natural part of being a human. However, when you face your fears, you develop courage. And, like risk-taking, or any of the others on this list, the more you face your fears, the more courageous you will become.
Alright, there we have 7 ways you can develop courage. Now, let’s make the connection to humility, shall we.
Here then are
7 Reasons Why Developing Courage Will Also Develop Your humility
Growth mindset – as you develop a growth mindset, you will become more present to just how little humans really know; and, conversely, just how much there is to learn. It is vast, and humbling.
Comfort zones – getting outside of your comfort zone is hard work. Really. At times, very hard. As you get outside of your comfort zone, you will realize how tiring and depleting it can be. Rewarding absolutely, and very, very tiring, and humbling.
Vulnerability – being vulnerable is extremely hard. Of all the items on this list, maybe the hardest. Oftentimes, just being vulnerable once in a different way will cause you to experience great humility.
Collaboration – connecting with other human beings through true collaboration is lovely, and is also an experience where you get to see other humans in action, being vulnerable, developing themselves in new ways, being courageous, taking risks, and transforming. It is a wondrous sight, and very humbling.
Innovation – any and all innovation is humbling. Just the idea of creating something new is a humbling experience. When I created the first iteration of this site, which took a long time, and was totally out of my range of expertise, I was tremendously humbled by the experience.
Risk-taking – like being vulnerable, taking risks is scary. And, if you take risks often, especially while working alongside others, you will experience a whole new level of humbleness.
Fears – facing our fears is extremely difficult; and, when you face them often, you become more humble. You sort of wake up to the reality that facing fears is hard for everyone, so when you witness someone do it, it can actually bring tears to your eyes. Shared humanity.
Alright, there are 7 ways you can develop courage, and 7 reasons why developing courage will also result in more humility.
In the event you’ve been wondering, I picked the introduction picture intentionally. Why?
Because developing courage by doing any of the 7 listed above is about being in action, doing things, living your life the best way you know how by giving your all every day.
Sometimes people conflate courage with iconic pictures of the hero saving the day, which is very dramatic. Yet, I want to offer you a different way to think about courage.
Courage is about being human. Recognizing our fears, the current limits of our knowledge, and doing something to face them, and grow ourselves. When we recognize where we have opportunities to develop, we can then take the necessary actions to create opportunities for ourselves to grow.
And, yes, if you like, to even transform. What does it take?
A willingness to set aside the ego, a little at a time, one step at a time, and take a different action. Take an action you’ve never taken before, and see what you get back. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’ve written a lot about vulnerability lately. Why? Well, for many years, I avoided vulnerability at all costs. Really, I did. I was not interested. Actually, I was disinterested to the point of high levels of anxiety. Today? Not the case.
Today I believe that, although being vulnerable is hard work, it is where all the wonders of being a human being live.
Wonders like innovation, resilience, love, compassion, and much more.
In fact, writing an article like this just a short two years ago would have been impossible. Too vulnerable, too much unknown, too much anxiety. We can pretend, or feel as if, anxiety is only our issue. Let me tell you unequivocally, it is not.
Many, many people all across the world suffer from anxiety. An aside, real quick, promise.
I was once in a therapist’s office, and they were talking to me about anxiety levels, and I said something like, I believe the entire population of the United States suffers from low-grade anxiety. What did they say? Yep, that’s true.
Now, I could write more about that, however, I’d like to get back to the current topic. Vulnerability.
I believe that vulnerability is important to our individual development. Showing us where we have growth opportunities if we choose, to be vulnerable, and grow into and eventually out of these opportunities. That’s development.
I also believe that vulnerability is a transformational space, which anyone can enter. Of course, of their choosing, when they are ready. What happens, you ask, when you are vulnerable on a regular basis?
Well, many things. However, I think there are 4 things that are distinct to being vulnerable where we get back much more by being vulnerable than we do by making the choice to not be vulnerable.
Alright, here, then is
The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational
There is something about being vulnerable that exposes us to more of our own humanity. And, when we are exposed to more of our humanity, we get to know more about everyone else’s humanity. It works that way.
And knowing both about our own humanity, while also knowing about everyone else’s, gives us more sight about our shared humanity.
Connecting more deeply to the similarity of those around us. When we can connect with others in that way, we get more out of our relationships. Really.
Think about the relationships you have. Are you able to be vulnerable? Hm. If not, well, you may want to rethink those relationships. Why?
Because to be vulnerable you must be in a context that is safe, and with people that you trust. If you are not, vulnerability is way too scary, and rightfully so.
When we are vulnerable, we are exposing parts of ourselves that we don’t normally expose. And, it takes safety and trust to get there. It does.
Therefore if you are in relationships with people where vulnerability is out of the question, I would question the need for those relationships. Hard. Yet, might be needed.
When we are in a safe space, with people we trust, we can be more open, and inside of that openness, being vulnerable becomes more available.
And, as was aforementioned, when we get to share that vulnerable space with someone else, we transform that relationship into something quite different. Beautiful.
Another quite lovely byproduct of being vulnerable is the opportunity to develop more compassion.
See, when we are vulnerable, we have the opportunity to experience grace for ourselves in doing something that makes us either nervous, fearful, or anxious.
We may not always extend ourselves that grace and the accompanying compassion, yet it is there. As was aforementioned, I was actively disinterested in vulnerability for many years. Over 20 in fact.
However, that does not mean I was never vulnerable. I was. And, inside of those vulnerable moments, some of which were long moments, I did not extend myself grace, nor the accompanying compassion. Nope.
Yet, know that developing more compassion for yourself inside of being more actively vulnerable, is possible. How do I know? Because I am actively vulnerable on a regular basis today. Every day in fact.
Anyone that participates in contexts and experiences that stretch them, that make them feel vulnerable, deserves grace and compassion; and, I can provide both to myself today. Growth.
Another opportunity inside of being vulnerable more often, and developing more compassion for yourself, is that you will also develop more compassion for others. It works that way.
Anytime we can extend ourselves more of something, we can now also extend it to others. And, believe me, everyone can use more grace and compassion today. Seriously.
Inside the space, you create to be more vulnerable, while extending to yourself and everyone else around you more grace and compassion, you have transformed yourself and that relationship.
In those precious moments, our shared humanity is realized, and we can recognize ourselves in each other. It is a beautiful experience. Connecting with another human being on that level is transformation.
It takes courage to be vulnerable often; and, when we are more often vulnerable, we get to develop more courage and resilience. Often, I think, people believe that some people have courage and resilience and others do not. Not true.
Like any other skill set, courage and resilience can be developed.
You can grow yourself into a more courageous and resilient self by doing things that are outside of your comfort zone.
And, it just so happens that being vulnerable is outside of most people’s comfort zone. I would actually argue that it is outside of everyone’s comfort zone. That is the nature of vulnerability inside of being human.
When we create the opportunity to grow into a more courageous and resilient self, we also get to model that behavior for people around us.
Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and, yes, even people we don’t know at all. Inspiring.
And, inside of creating more inspiration in this world by being more open and vulnerable, developing ourselves, while also showing others that developmental growth is possible for them too, you get transformation.
Transformation for yourself, yes; and, transformation for those that choose to journey with you into vulnerable situations and contexts, which are created by stepping out of your comfort zone and into spaces that are vulnerable.
When we have deeper connections with ourselves, and likewise, with people close to us, built upon safety and trust, there is an increased likelihood of more collaboration. Fun.
Though I think I’ve always naturally gravitated towards collaborative contexts and people that share a collaborative spirit with me, I was not always available to these types of contexts or people.
Remember, I actively avoided and resisted my own vulnerability for a long time, which also means that I, in many ways, missed out on deeper relationships with people where collaboration was more possible.
Now, I am surrounded by these types of contexts and people.
Even with people that I at one time did not share this type of connection, that connection is more apparent today. And, it can be for you too.
When we are available to a natural human inclination within us to share ourselves with others, to connect with them deeply, and to share all that we have to offer, we are or have become natural collaborators. Really. At that moment, or in those moments, it is true.
A byproduct of entering into collaborative contexts more regularly also means that there is a higher likelihood for innovation to occur. And, inside of innovative contexts transformation is regularly apparent. Why?
Because when we are vulnerably collaborating, we are out on a limb, deeply connected to others in that safe and trusting context, where courage flourishes, as does innovation. And, what often follows innovation is transformation.
In closing, I will also offer that where there is the possibility of developing more of a vulnerable self, there is also the possibility of developing less nervousness, fear, and anxiety.
What I’ve learned in the past three years, is that avoiding and resisting things that make us uncomfortable only brings more nervousness, fear, and anxiety. An example? Sure.
When I was working in the private sector, before going back to University at 33, I worked for several large corporations; and, at one of them, I wanted desperately to be promoted into a leadership role.
Well, at that time, I had a great supervisor and mentor, and that goal became a reality.
As many of you know, when you are in leadership roles, the need to speak in front of groups, your team, business, or organization is rather mandatory. It’s part of it. How did I feel about that? Horribly anxious. Really. Sky-high anxiety.
I remember the first time being in front of the group, I would eventually lead, at a district meeting. I had a 5-minute speech to give. 5-minutes, that’s all. Might as well have been an hour. Phew.
I was so anxious that the paper I was using for a guide, actually I was reading directly from it, was shaking like a leaf in my hand. Actually, my whole body was shaking like a leaf. Really.
Well, I continued to take on small parts in the meetings, 5 minutes became 10, and 10 developed, over time, into giving entire 1 to 1.5-hour district meetings to the group by myself. The point?
It took time. One step at a time. Bite-sized chunks, as they say, within a context where safety and trust were present.
And, yep, I developed more courage, resilience, much deeper connections with that team, and we did become highly collaborative. Fun.
Since that time, I’ve led several teams, including the team I am on right now and have taught at University. Transformation.
And, you can also be a part of a vulnerable transformation. It’s not complicated, yet it is, as we’ve discussed. Difficult.
Yet, when you take it one step at a time, one action at a time, knowing that it is a process, not a light switch, you can rest in ease knowing that if you persist you will be doing vulnerability more often.
And, guess what? Without even knowing it you will have developed deeper connections, more compassion, and courage, and you will probably find yourself in collaborative contexts more often.
Vulnerability is transformational, and you can partake in it if you choose. Choose well.