I’ve gone back to reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, as I feel in need of a tremendous kick in the ass for the new year. Something to motivate me to head “confidently in the direction of my dreams.” I can’t remember right this moment who said that, but I like the way it sounds.
For the past few months, I’ve felt stifled in my professional life — the work I do is certainly important to the success of the organization, but it offers no feeling of personal satisfaction or a sense that I am doing something to serve/help others — and as a result, nurturing my Self. I’m the quintessential “caretaker.” Always have been and probably always will be, and the moments I feel the greatest joy are when I’ve helped someone to overcome an obstacle or discover his or her potential.
How ironic, then, that what I love to do for others… is so damned difficult to do for my Self? Why do I have such a problem with going in the direction of my dreams?
I’m afraid. Yep, that’s it. Plain and simple. I feel vulnerable.
The interesting thing in my reading is that Brené talks about vulnerability, not as a weakness, but as an act of courage. It’s that being able to put yourself out there, despite all the preconceived ideas of possible failure or inadequacy, and fighting the good fight, regardless of the outcome.
Me? Courageous? Hmmm…
As much as I’d like to pride myself on being independent (I believe it comes from having to grow up fast after mom died — I was only eleven when that journey began), I know that there are times when I’d like nothing more than to shed that “coat of armor” that has protected me through the last 37 years, roll over and expose my soul to the world and say, “Hey. I need your support here. Deep down inside, there is a creative, intelligent, organized woman who is looking for an opportunity to do something amazing with her life that makes a difference — for others but also for her Self as well. Here I am, standing in the center of the arena, with no protection, for all the world to see, and I could sure as hell use some support and encouragement of my endeavors here.”
Now, THAT, my friends, takes courage.
Being vulnerable – in my case, having the courage to seek opportunities for soul-satisfying work — is a huge risk. It means putting my experiences out there on the résumé and job application for the world to see and hoping that someone will say, “She’s exactly the person we need! Let’s give her the opportunity!” It also means being ready to accept the fact that those people looking at my experiences may not feel I’m the right one for the job, and I shouldn’t take that as a sign that I’m incapable or not talented or that I need to stay right where I am and not look any more. That opportunity simply wasn’t the right one for me, and I need pick myself up, brush myself off, and, well… you know the rest.
Problem is, the feelings of inadequacy come bubbling to the surface of my little glass half full, as I start comparing myself to the other potential candidates, even before the application has been submitted. It’s that fear of failure — of not believing that I can do anything I put my mind to if I’d just get the hell out there and do it. Much of that inadequacy and doubt has been internalized, I believe, as a result of listening to a long list of people who, although they claimed to be in the arena with me, were actually up in the bleachers, hurling their opinions at me like rotten tomatoes.
“You wouldn’t enjoy doing that, would you?”
“Yeah, sure, it sounds interesting…but what does it pay?”
“Why would you want to do that? You’re good at what you do now.”
“Why would you want to leave this job? It pays well, and you have an important title?”
Vulnerability “True Confession” of the Day: As much as I pride myself on being independent, I need someone there beside me in the arena, slapping me on the back, high-fiving me, and saying, “Go for it!” regardless of the outcome.
In one of her interviews on YouTube, Brené talks about having a “short list” of people whose opinions matter — those “battle buddies” who are there with you and for you while you take that bold, brave first step. The ones who don’t give up on you because you make mistakes or are even afraid to attempt to put yourself out there at all, for fear of making a mistake. They are the ones who love you,”not in spite of your vulnerabilities…but because of them.” The ones who know you’re on the verge of being bat-shit crazy, but they love and appreciate that about you. She keeps this list handy in her purse for those moments when feelings of doubt and inadequacy rear their ugly heads.
Watch her interview on “Chase Jarvis Live” here. It’s worth the hour-and-a-half, so pour yourself a glass of something and watch:
I have been thinking about my “short list” over the past few weeks, and it appears I’d be well-served to put it on a business card and keep it close by for handy reference. They are a select few, and although they are probably not aware of their placement on this list, I hold their friendship, support, encouragement… and occasional ass-kicking skills in very high regard. So, as I take these bold steps, I will look at my list and know that, while it’s up to me to make things happen, those whose opinions matter – those who stand beside me in the area, despite the outcome – are always there.
Who’s on your “short list?”