The sound of the word makes my clients uncomfortable.  It often represents weakness to them. For driven, perfection oriented veterinarians, this is a scary space.  It is scary because they have been striving for as long as they can remember to be good enough to get into vet school, that internship, that fabulous job and owning that successful business. Accomplishing these goals, meant they had to be better than enough. Weakness was not an option.  After years of armouring up, to hide uncertainty and anxiety, with a mask of perfectionism, opening themselves up to be seen as real, human and imperfect is at best uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, however, necessary. 

Brene Brown defines vulnerability as: Uncertainty, Risk and Emotional Exposure. The following is one of her examples:

You want to learn Yoga. You get excited, go out buy a mat, clothes and sign up for class.  Upon arriving you see all these fit, confident, engaged people going in. You begin to feel funny, shaky, unsure. Vulnerability sets in, that feeling of uncertainty.  The fear of being potentially judged and the fear of the unfamiliar.  You ask yourself “Why would I ever think of doing this?” It is easier to control the outcome and leave. 

What do we miss by not embracing the vulnerability in this example?  Meeting new people, learning a new skill, engaging in a healthier self, accomplishment and, heaven forbid, joy. 

When we don’t embrace vulnerability, we miss out on experiences, connection and growth.  We try to control outcomes and tamp down emotions.  We hold ourselves back.

Think about vulnerability in terms of how we communicate with our clients and staff. For example; showing up authentically and allowing them to see the real person.  Scary. 

Uncertainty-they might see I am not perfect

Risk– I can’t do it all or someone is better than me.

Emotional exposure– they might not respect me if I don’t have the answer.

What do we miss by not embracing vulnerability in this example? Compassion, allowing others to really see us and the connection it brings when others know they are not the only one. Courage to stand, as Brene calls it, in the arena and trying something new/different.  When your staff and clients can see you as real, human and imperfect it creates connection and loyalty.  When people feel that compassion and connection, they are empowered to step up, pitch in, be engaged and create enjoyment in their work and environment.  It makes leading your teams easier, more effective and everyone wins, clients, patients, staff and you.

How does vulnerability serve you?

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