Say Goodbye to Your Ego for Ultimate Vulnerability
Being able to show vulnerability is actually a strength.
Being vulnerable without oversharing is a skill that can be developed, and the only way to do so is to dare greatly and “lean” into the opportunities of uncomfortable conversations.
Reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly is a great first step to embark on this journey of embracing vulnerability.
But it is just the first step. Knowledge doesn’t have any value unless you put it into action. Here you can see some examples of ways to be vulnerable without oversharing.
Now you need to listen with all your senses, you need to be able to be present in every conversation, so you can start identifying the opportunities to be vulnerable or to empower others to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability allows you to dump all the weight you have been carrying for years that has slowed you down (the “armor” that we put on, as Brown would say). How many chips do you have on your shoulders?
Having a few can actually motivate you but too many will be a burden and will keep you from your goals.
Let’s take a look at what being vulnerable and empowering others to be vulnerable looks like.
Embrace the Uncomfortable
That’s it. Seriously, comfort is knowing what comes next or taking on a project where you are certain success is on the horizon. Uncomfortableness occurs when you are unclear of the future. This is one of the areas where I struggle, yet constantly pursue.
As a consultant, I have learned to release expectations. Instead of assuming a client will like a certain project I am working on, I simply do my best work and go into presentations with no expectations. Specifically, for design projects, I will create multiple samples and over the years I noticed clients will pick my least favorite.
I never know how clients will act, maybe you can relate. At one point you are their superstar, and within a week they are looking to replace you. One of my close friends works for a global consulting firm and something similar happened. She started a long-term project, was crushing it (as she always does), and then was told by her firm the company terminated the contract. The same has happened to me.
The times where I had high expectations is when my spirits were destroyed. Now, I don’t have expectations which frees me to be more honest, take risks on projects, and produce at a higher level. I am willing to go above and beyond because I have no expectations of security. It sounds weird, I know.
But think about it. Your abilities automatically increase once you have released the tight grip of expectations. You are liberated to be vulnerable, try new things, and in the end, you generally do better work since you are not constrained by self-imposed expectations.
Don’t be mistaken. This process of removing expectations is not enjoyable, yet it’s key to a life of vulnerability. We all want comfort, it’s part of our nature as Homo sapiens. The question is, do you want to go beyond your basic nature and push past the limitations you place on your life? Expectations automatically create limitations, whereas, no expectations creates freedom.
When you do the above you become an example to others. We all learn from observation and immersion. How did you learn to speak, spell, cook, drive, or any other skill you possess? Through observation and then immersive experience.
Change yourself and then you will be the example others can emulate. To empower others, you must be empowered.
Here is your challenge, for one-week, remove expectations. If someone is late to a meeting, let it go. If your boss doesn’t like what you did, ask how to improve. If a subordinate did not meet your requests, ask yourself how you can motivate them.
It will be difficult. Your life should not be easy. Your life should be one of continual improvement while helping others. A first step to this life is to remove expectations.
Play the long game.
Playing the long game requires you to let your ego take hits.
In fact, letting your ego be hurt is actually a sign of strength.
There are many great examples and stories that show the value of having your ego under control to play the long game.
Have you watched the movie The Prestige? That is a great example of playing the long game. Spoiler alert: Christian Bale’s character performed some magic tricks that nobody could figure out.
The trick incorporated his twin brother. They both sacrificed half of their lives and lived as they were only one person. Nobody knew about their secret, not even their wife.
You can see how sometimes their egos would start to get rattled, but eventually, they would control them and maintain the long game.
You are going to have to do the same in your career if you want to win big. You have to play the long game and keep your ego under control.
Many times, people may take credit for some of the things you did. Many times you may not get recognized for your work. Keep your focus on doing. Keep your focus on winning the long game.
At some point, others will do the promotion for you. Once you start adding so much value, nobody will be able to deny your contributions.
Once you add value in every environment that you are part of, nobody will be able to take credit for your work.
Playing the long game is the ultimate test of confidence. If you know you are valuable, if you know you are a high-achiever, you shouldn’t need constant reinforcement to know you are doing a good job.
Do you want to get recognition or do you want to add value? Yes, we all want recognition. It is nice when others appreciate the value that we add, but that is a small reward compared to knowing that you are changing people’s lives.
Let your work do the talking. Let the people whose lives you’ve changed do the talking.
Be consistent and show up every day, focused on adding value and helping others, and soon enough your brand will be so valuable that people you don’t even know will start talking about you.
Do the work, and play the long game. Take action and add value in a different environment.
Pick any organization and take ownership of a project. It could be as simple as organizing a small event. Set the goal of doing that at least every 90 days. Soon enough your brand will go to the next level.
Yes, it takes a lot of work to build a strong personal brand. But once you do, it will just be a matter of maintaining the momentum. Once the ball is rolling you won’t need as much effort.
What will you do differently during the next 90 days?
Your Action Items
Over the past three weeks, we have discussed how men must be vulnerable for success. Also, there is a big difference between vulnerability and oversharing. One is a positive habit which allows you to connect with people in a deep way. The other should not be done as it really isn’t about vulnerability, instead, it’s about you.
Now we have reached the zenith of vulnerability. To embrace the uncomfortable you must release expectations and your ego for long-term success. This is not easy.
You must constantly think of others, put yourself in vulnerable situations, have credit taken from you, and empower others through your example. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t want to do this. We want the credit for ourselves, we want the fame, and we want the fortune.
Yet, is that how you want to be remembered? Someone who was self-centered going after the glory as an individual? If you succeed you will be viewed as selfish and be lonely at the top. If you fail you will have alienated the people closest to you. It's a lose-lose game.
On the other hand, being vulnerable, releasing expectations, and removing your ego sets you up for guaranteed success. It will take time, perhaps decades, for you to reach “success.” But it will happen. You will be successful as you try new projects, help others, give credit freely, and become the person people look towards for guidance.
Play the long game through vulnerability and you will leave a legacy.
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Alejandro I. Sanoja & Matt Avery