I hate feeling vulnerable. It makes me feel weak and exposed. Everyone probably feels the same I guess. When I was in 2nd grade I had one of those harrowing choir experiences, you know, where the teacher makes everyone do a solo in front of the class. I was terrified and completely froze. I don't know if I've ever felt that intensity of horror since. So I've known early on that vulnerability isn't native to me in any way.
When you start a business it can help to appear invulnerable. You want to look confident to potential clients and employees, give off the vibe that you are here to stay. But over time a business is actually better served by a vulnerable leader- one that can take input, ask for help, admit weaknesses. There are some companies that thrive under charismatic, invulnerable leaders but they rarely survive them.
Personally, I do not want to build companies that exist to serve me. I want to build companies that serve a real purpose. A purpose that has a positive impact on the world and also inspires others to become employees and customers. And yes, a purpose that empowers the company to make money. But to serve a purpose I have to become vulnerable. You cannot serve something or someone without becoming vulnerable.
Being vulnerable doesn't mean constantly doubting yourself. In fact it can sweep away the shadows of doubt- nudging a difficult topic into the open for honest assessment and proper assignment. Being vulnerable can create similar emotions to feeling weak but I've been surprised to see how much strength comes from displaying vulnerability. It's a paradoxical thing.
Vulnerability is a first cousin to love, that touchy feely emotion we often try to keep out of the workplace. But we all know that love can do that magic math where 1+1=3. The same thing goes with vulnerability. It usually leads to a byproduct that is greater than its parts- whether it be a new level of understanding, deeper friendships, greater collaboration, etc. We tap into our super powers when we become vulnerable. Unfortunately we have spent most of our lives, and humankind's evolution, fighting vulnerability for survival's sake. There is much to unlearn.
So I continue to struggle with vulnerability. I know the more vulnerable I become the closer I will be to realizing my potential- personally and professionally. My fear of vulnerability is what is standing between me and that potential. I hope someday to become that fully realized person but for now I continue to struggle.