The Courage to be Vulnerable

COURAGE - It's what enables us to conquer obstacles and fears, build resiliency, and overcome adversity. Courage helps to develop and maintain good mental health, and can help us step out of our comfort zones at home and at work to be ourselves, and be proud of who we are. 

Please welcome our guest blogger, Billy Anderson, for today's post on courage. 

Billy is the founder of The Courage Crusade, teaching the discipline of overcoming fear so you can have the courage to be yourself. He is a speaker, coach and author of the book “Your Comfort Zone Is Killing You.” He also writes for The Globe & Mail. Billy left his advertising career to pursue his dreams. He led wilderness trips for Outward Bound for 10 years, he was a fundraising director for UNICEF, an apple picker in New Zealand and a sugar cane farmer in Costa Rica. Billy has traveled to over 35 countries, running with the bulls in Spain, swimming with sharks in South America and building a school on a tiny island near Fiji. He has jumped out of an airplane exactly 101 times, carried a canoe 42 kms in two days to send kids to camp, and he walked from Muskoka to Toronto in the middle of winter to raise money for Camp Oochigeas – a camp for kids with cancer.


In a study I recently did with over twenty organizations from small to large, the #1 change they wanted to see in their employees was this: “We want them to speak up more.”

Speaking up helps great ideas come to light and it also helps us share concerns and red flags which could turn into costly mistakes if left unaddressed. However, from my experience coaching numerous corporate executives, people most avoid speaking up when there is conflict or tension to be dealt with.

Why do we shy away from initiating difficult conversations? Why do we make endless excuses to put it off until later? We do it because we are PROGRAMMED that way.

Like most species, we need to be part of a larger group in order to survive. As a result, we are born with a deep-seeded need to belong at all costs. That means we don’t like tension, we don’t like to criticize, and we hate being wrong or looking silly. We are terrified of failure, letting people down, and not fitting in. Me included!

So we clam up and pretend everything is okay because we don’t want to rock the boat. But that simply creates a time-bomb which will explode later into something much worse.

The secret to all of this is Courage. We need the courage to address issues, put our thoughts and feelings out there for others to see, and try for a better solution. Specifically, we need the courage to be vulnerable.

Yuck. The “V” word.

Vulnerability is the magic pill that will make your difficult conversation successful. But it will feel yucky to do it!

Step 1: Express what the benefit is for the other person, not just you: “Have you got a minute to chat? I think it will be good for both of us.”

Step 2: State the issue as your opinion rather than a fact: “I could be wrong here, but I felt a bit disrespected with what you said in that meeting. I’m not saying you meant to do that, but it’s just how I felt so I wanted to discuss it."

Step 3: Take ownership for what might be your fault: “I may not have been clear about what my expectations were.”

If you honestly don’t think you were at fault in any way (which is rare, believe me) you can say, “I don’t actually think I did anything wrong here, but if you disagree please say so because I want you to feel good about this too.”

Step 4: Show that you understand their side: “I know you’ve had a lot on your plate lately, and this might seem like an added project” or “I know I can be tricky to deal with sometimes when I feel a lot of pressure at work.”

Step 5: Ask for their opinion! Nothing shows more respect than asking for someone’s opinion, so long as you actually listen.

And guess what? This exact process works with every single relationship you have, not just work! Spouse, kids, friends….

Now get out there and have the courage to be vulnerable!

Please comment below and let us know how you are being courageous today! Thank you Billy, from all of us at L&L Consulting!