Years ago, I worked in Multi-Level Marketing. During our workshops and seminars, people who had had an outstanding month took the stage and shared the stories of their success. Everyone cheered and celebrated them. It was inspirational and incredibly motivating.
And yet, the most powerful moment I experienced during those years happened when I made myself vulnerable. I was on stage after phenomenal growth in my business, and opened up about my lack of consistent action months earlier. During this, I talked about how bad I’d felt about myself, how much effort it had cost to get back into consistency. I also mentioned how I had to keep at it for a full four months with not much to show for it, to arrive at my breakthrough success.
Never before or after did I have so many people come up to me during the break. They told me how my vulnerability had given them a reason to keep going. It was humbling and very, very moving.
Owning experiences and emotions is empowering. I’d like to outline some ways in which you can make this work for you, but first allow me to clarify something.
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Is negativity good, then?
This doesn’t mean that it’s a great thing to talk about negative things. I still maintain that we should focus on what’s working, rather than what isn’t. However, not focusing on something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged and owned (it’s incredible how many people get this wrong!).
To state the obvious, human beings have both positive and negative emotions. To allow this full range acts like a beacon. Others around you can sense your authenticity. It’s why there was such a strong response about my vulnerability on stage: people knew instinctively that I wasn’t trying to make myself look better or embellish the story. Authenticity is like an invisible hand reaching out to others.
Everyone wins when you own up to your full range of emotions, especially when you then proceed to act on the constructive ones.
How vulnerabiity empowers you
Finding a job
Have you ever seen those articles that tell you to respond with something which can also be seen as a strength, when an interviewer asks you about your weaknesses? I’m sorry, but I call BS.
In the past ten years or so, I’ve taken to being myself and completely open during job interviews. I’ve owned up to my weaknesses and at times, I’ve actually laughed with an interviewer about some spectacular failure I’ve had. Oh, and I got every job I applied for during those years.
Employers are relieved to have an actual human being in front of them. They see someone who doesn’t pretend but gives them a realistic impression of what to expect. After all, everyone has flaws, and employers appreciate the fact that at least there won’t be any nasty surprises when they hire me.
Enabling you to pursue your passion
To find what truly makes you happy, especially when you’re a multi-passionate with many different interests, requires a thorough knowledge of yourself. If you keep rationalising that you “don’t have the time” (or money) for your passion, if you tell yourself you don’t really need this and you’re really fine without it, you can keep yourself in a state of inertia for a very long time.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I’m the uncrowned queen of lying to myself and spent years rationalising a joyless life of work, junk food, and gaming (none of these things are negative on their own, by the way. I still work, I still occasionally eat junk, and I’m still a gamer. But when these things make up your entire existence, it becomes a problem).
I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you find yourself settling, for whatever “good” reason, you are not being your authentic self. Dig deeper. Allow your emotions, including your vulnerability. Wade through them until you arrive at that joy, and then watch yourself soar. And whatever else you do, put your passions first.
Improve your relationships
This is too wide a field to talk about in detail (this article would turn into a book!), so I’ll make it short. Authenticity opens up relationships. If one person shows vulnerability, the other feels safer to do so, too. Try it with your spiteful teenager or your emotionally distant partner. It can be incredibly scary to be the first one to open up, but the results are nothing short of spectacular.