Do you see vulnerability as an ability or liability? This can be open to interpretation, and better yet, the application of vulnerability may vary as well. Some may see it as simply opening up and putting ourselves ‘out there.’ What happens next – our defenses rise up! I’m more aligned to Brene Brown’s definition: show up, open up, and not control the outcome. This resonates, especially as we live in a world that touts strength as a virtue. Embracing vulnerability emerges as a unique gateway to fostering genuine connections and deepening self-awareness. It’s about daring to expose one’s raw emotions and imperfections, allowing our true selves to shine. Despite societal norms deeming vulnerability as a liability or weakness, the undeniable strength it lends to relationships and self-understanding is unparalleled.
We discussed this with Raj Sisodia, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Conscious Capitalism Inc., on the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast. This subject is incredibly important to Raj’s work and a key theme in his talks and each of his books (that we highly recommend!). During this eye-opening and vulnerable conversation, Ashish, Raj and I shared ideas with each other that yields the power of vulnerability can unlock from within us, as Raj highlights: ‘Know yourself, love yourself and be yourself. Let’s explore this further in three parts:
- Embracing Vulnerability for Authentic Connections
- Unraveling the Tapestry of Purpose
- Leadership through Authenticity and Vulnerability
“Giving means having a positive impact on the lives of others and growing is becoming a more powerful version of yourself.” Raj Sisodia
Embracing Vulnerability for Authentic Connections:
Turning towards one’s vulnerability paves the way for authentic relationships to connect and flourish. It’s essentially wearing one’s heart on the sleeve, making the raw, unfiltered emotions visible to others. While it might be perceived as a sign of weakness in many societal norms, the sheer power it holds in deepening relationships and enhancing self-understanding is unmatchable. Embracing vulnerability becomes an invitation to be seen genuinely, imperfections and uncertainties included. Through this lens, vulnerability transforms from a perceived weakness to an essential aspect of authentic connection.
The transformative potential of vulnerability is evident in Raj Sisodia’s perspective. He illustrates this through the story of Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, who redefined an entire organization’s culture through vulnerability. By openly sharing his emotions and thoughts, Nadella encouraged his team to embrace their authentic selves without fear of judgment. This resonates with the truth that vulnerability bridges the gap to more authentic communication, fostering productive relationships in the process.
I have felt this benefits as well. Twelve months into a new role, I opened up and shared three aspects of my upbringing with my team: an over-achiever, who seeks validation and compares himself with others. This reflection, unknowing of the outcome, was well received by my team and took down barriers that I didn’t realize existed. Suddenly, I was receiving kind offers for support and collaboration. Power to vulnerability!
Unraveling the Tapestry of Purpose
Discovering one’s purpose is like unraveling a profound mystery about oneself. It isn’t about attaining a particular goal or reaching a certain milestone. Instead, it’s about setting out on a wonderful journey, where each step taken brings you closer to understanding yourself better. And once the purpose forms a clear, exciting picture, it transforms into a guiding beacon, shaping every decision, every step along the way, transforming the monotonous day-to-day experiences into more fulfilling and enriching ones.
In our conversation, Raj shed light on his own journey towards self-discovery. For Raj, finding his purpose wasn’t a means to an end, but more a progression. It wasn’t something he relentlessly pursued; rather, it seamlessly unfolded and found him when the time was right. This narrative reinforces the idea that finding a purpose isn’t merely about seeking it. In embracing vulnerability throughout this journey, we give up some control and embrace the unpredictability, allowing life to reveal our purpose in due course.
If you asked me in 2006 would I be open to working in Amsterdam for Nike while becoming a certified coach and integrating 9 Hardwired for Happiness practices into my life, I would have given you a blank stare. Granted, my enthusiasm would have been heightened at the sheer possibility. Personally, I may have struggled to give up the control and roll with the unknown. Since 2019, I began to lessen that control, and began to give myself more space and opened my mind to possibility. At that time, I had no clue that various prospects would lead me to connecting with the likes of Ashish, Raj and many other amazing souls on my journey towards what is becoming clearer as my life purpose.
Leadership Through Authenticity and Vulnerability:
True leadership goes beyond executing a well-thought-out plan or sailing the organization towards its vision. Real leadership is about showcasing your authentic self, leading with vulnerability, and allowing those we lead to connect with us on a deeper level. It’s about aligning your actions with your deeper values and inviting those around you to do the same. This leadership style gives others the courage to venture into their unknowns confidently, where they acknowledge their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and find their unique rhythm.
Raj, during his dialogue, highlighted the kind of impact leaders can have when they lead with authenticity. As Raj put it, cultivating a sense of vulnerability allows leaders and their teams to exist in a space where everyone’s contribution — be it thoughts, opinions, or ideas — are acknowledged and respected. Raj’s narrative stands testament to the truth: conscious leadership rooted in authenticity and vulnerability can effectively shift the dynamics within an organization towards more synergy and mutual respect.
I have experienced a handful of leaders that reveal this level of authenticity and vulnerability, and find it more a harmonious dance than a perfect balance. As I explore this concept further and embrace my own vulnerability, I have found several Hardwired for Happiness practices resonate to evolve myself as a leader. Here are few of them and tips that I find useful:
- Live with Intention: Reflect on your patterns and, where able, lead by example, showcasing your true self to inspire others
- Fuel Up with Self Compassion: Listen actively to others’ stories, building empathy and compassion for both them and yourself
- Define your Purpose: Reflect on your passions and values to shape your authentic path. Embrace uncertainty and stay receptive to life’s cues.
- Build community: Develop relationships and incorporate opportunities where you can share your feelings with trusted individuals to foster connection. Create an inclusive environment where diverse contributions are respected. Brainstorm obstacles and support each others journey.
Choose one or two that work for you, and integrate them into your life as you seek to grow and embrace the power of vulnerability that lies within you.
The journey to self-discovery and authentic connections involves embracing vulnerability as a means to understand and showcase your true self. Inspired by Raj Sisodia’s wisdom, this journey invites you to explore your passions, embrace uncertainty, and lead with authenticity. By allowing yourself to be seen, imperfections and all, you pave the way for genuine relationships and a more fulfilling life.
Let’s turn that view of vulnerability from liability into (your) ability.
Raj Sisodia, FEMSA Distinguished University Professor of Conscious Enterprise and Chairman of the Conscious Enterprise Center at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Raj has a Ph. D. in Business from Columbia University. He has published fifteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Conscious Capitalism (2013), the Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Matters (2015), Firms of Endearment (named a top business book of 2007 by Amazon.com), The Healing Organization and Awaken (2023). Raj has consulted with and taught at numerous companies, including AT&T, Verizon, LG, Whole Foods Market, Tata, Walmart, and McDonalds. He is a multi-award receipient and has served on the boards of Mastek and The Container Store. Learn more about him at rajsisodia.com and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Listen to the full podcast with Raj below.
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