The Easier Softer Way is excited to host this guest post from Mike Watson! Visit mike at emcmike.com.
Vulnerability is a characteristic associated with weakness, when in reality it reflects an inner strength of character. It allows for insight of the self, and serves as an invitation to others to see you honestly, without the layers or filters we tend to adopt as social defense mechanisms.
When you are vulnerable you can live life to the fullest and be free to experience all of your emotions. Is that not what we seek, to be completely and totally fulfilled? Ironically, this idea of experiencing every emotion, or aspect of our life, is what creates anxiety in so many. We have been taught to block out the “bad” and only focus on getting to the “good” feelings as quickly as possible. The harm in this rush to goodness is two-fold. We shortchange who we are and we discount our ability to handle life in its totality, which results in stunted personal growth, trauma and lack of access to our true potential.
What I believe, and psychology supports, and Robert Firestone, Ph.D. states in Psychology Today, is that the key to being vulnerable is a willingness to tolerate emotional pain, …as well as joy, as well as positive things, and love, too in the pursuit of your life.
An important thing to realize is that when we are vulnerable we can freely choose and experience communities, cultures and experiences that we otherwise would have avoided. It is in the trying, that we learn to grow. You have to let go of preconceived ideas, and the running dialogue in your head of a fear based culture to grow. When you let go of the doubt and fear of what might happen, you begin to gain insight into the self. This insight builds confidence so that your interactions within society elevate the individual, along with the greater community, and eventually all of humanity to new heights. To hold fast, and dig in your heels in steadfast stubbornness is to accept the cult of mediocrity, and huddle in the safety of the average. Standing rigid is to inhale fear with every breath. When breathless we cannot move, and where there is no movement, there is no development.
This concept of being vulnerable will begin to shape individuals into conscious leaders. Leaders that will not utilize power of position, or wealth to demand compliance, but leaders that will instead utilize vulnerability as a way of shaping an environment, in which people do not fear to express, innovate and temporarily fail as they work. When leaders embrace this strength, they will influence and create sustainable businesses, as well as individuals that consistently outperform their goals. People excel when they have autonomy, and believe in their purpose. Individuals are not empowered to excel when they fear dismissal, or can only use the sole desire of making more money as a motivator. People emulate leaders and their behaviors, so the result of being honest and transparent is that you cast a larger net of influence that ultimately allows for greater growth.
Ultimately it is the understanding that being vulnerable allows you to outlast what you had hoped for, so that you can be present enough to experience what is already there. When you are present, and live between the seconds as a vulnerable leader, you can innovate and create with the tools that are present. When vulnerable you learn to see the abundance of opportunity that awaits you every day. Opportunities and experiences that we normally would have missed will be there for the benefit, insight, and alignment of the self with the rest of humanity.
Always connecting the unconnected,
Mike endorses the principles of Conscious Capitalism, believes in working with individuals and leaders who are inclined toward worthy goals, guided by core human values, and in relationship with all stakeholders. He believes in the power of diversity, working collaboratively, and the development of insight as a tool for prosperity. He has partnered with a wide range of professionals, from CEOs to creatives.
Mike has been educating, influencing and directing for the past 25 years, often from a regional perspective. During this time, he has shaped a national retail company’s visual footprint, and brand image, expanded business models, and reshaped communities.
Mike is a TEDx speaker, educator and curator at the Art Institute of Charlotte, and holds an MALS from University of NC Greensboro.
“Wisdom is the response of here and now. If it is really a true response, then it’s a compassionate response and in harmony with the moment, in harmony with the way things are. This means you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing. If the house is on fire, you don’t say, ‘Let’s all let go. We all need to die one day. Never mind. The house is just on fire. Let’s stay here, this is going to pass.’ That is stupidity.”
“My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.”
-A.A. Grapevine, January 1958
“We have gained some understanding of the ancient words “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
-Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p. 166 (Tradition Eight)
“When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you.”
“Expect nothing and accept everything and you will never be disappointed.”
“The practice of meditation helps us to see things other people can’t see. We look deeply and we see that father and son, father and daughter, mother and son, mother and daughter, corn seed and cornstalk, have a very close relationship. That is why we should awaken to the fact, to the truth, that we inter-are. The suffering of one is the suffering of the other. When we see that we and all living beings are made of the same nature, how can there be division between us? How can there be lack of harmony? When we realize our ‘interbeing nature’, we’ll stop blaming and exploiting and killing, because we know that we inter-are. That is the great awakening we must have in order for the Earth to be saved.
We human beings have always singled ourselves out from the rest of the natural world. We classify other animals and living beings as ‘Nature’, a thing apart from us, and act as if we’re somehow separate from it. Then we ask, “How should we deal with Nature?” We should deal with Nature the same way we should deal with ourselves: nonviolently. Human beings and Nature are inseparable. Just as we should not harm ourselves, we should not harm Nature.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“The achievement of freedom from fear is a lifetime undertaking, one that can never be wholly completed.”
-A.A. Grapevine, January 1962
“We shall look for progress, not for perfection.”
-Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p. 91 (Step Ten)
“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“The dog might be barking, or there may be traffic noise, but it’s really up to us whether we contend against it or resent it. We might have been playing the same music ourselves yesterday. Suddenly, the next-door neighbor is playing it, and we think, “Don’t make noise! I’m trying to meditate! How insensitive!” The point is to have the attitude of not starting a fight with it, to be okay with the noise. Just consciously let the noise be off to the side. You notice it and then consciously let it go. You can use your imagination in different ways, like imagining that: “The dog is just being a dog, it’s not trying to annoy me. It’s just doing its dog thing; that’s what dogs do. They’re supposed to. If I were a dog, I’d bark.” So, you work with the attitude in very simple, straightforward ways and let the mind come back to the centre.”
“Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.”
-As Bill Sees It p. 31
“Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets.”
-Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p. 93 (Step Ten)
“When you go in search of honey, you must expect to be stung by bees.”
“Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s garden.”