Vulnerability Is My Strength
“Emotion is passion; it’s caring. It’s about putting people first.”
The night before I was to appear on television to discuss the election and the role of women’s influence, I found myself a bit nervous. I couldn’t stop the thoughts rushing in my head: “Oh my God, I’m not a business reporter… or an election expert. Will I do a great job?” But then I took a few deep breaths, looked in the mirror, and set myself straight. The producers asked me to contribute to this segment because I am extremely qualified to comment on equality in the workplace and the value that women bring to the table. After all, I speak about these topics all the time in front of thousands of people, so what’s the difference? My voice is unique and adds a real life perspective. If everyone thought and spoke exactly alike, how boring would it be to watch? And, if we were all the same, we wouldn’t each have a role to play.
No one ever wants to feel vulnerable. It makes us fragile and on edge. But I view vulnerability as a strength — not a weakness. If you think you are perfect and good at everything, you’re probably not going to do anything really well.
I’ve been told that there is no room for emotion in the boardroom. But why not?! Emotion is passion; it’s caring. It’s about putting people first. It’s a humanizing element. It’s what differentiates the masculine and feminine archetypes of leadership. So how was I going to lead? I had two choices — agree and conform to the legacy style, or be myself. I bet you know which path I chose.
I built a very successful lifestyle company by taking care of my own, treating my team like my family, and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly… and that required being vulnerable. It’s important to own your strengths AND embrace your weaknesses. Admitting to yourself that you don’t know everything, you are not perfect, and some things might just scare the heck out of you—but that’s ok! That is why you have a team to complement your strengths. I always say that a person alone has power, but collectively we have impact. So find a way to surround yourself with others who make you better, lift you up, showcase your strengths, and help you achieve the impossible!
I think that the best leaders today are those that share their vulnerability! It’s so refreshing to see a leader who shows their authentic self and doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. They question where they are and where they can go. And they surround themselves with diverse mindsets and strengths so they can create action.
We all have vulnerabilities. Some people are just not afraid to show them.
I always think of a comment by one of my powerhouse corporate girlfriends who shared with me what to do when facing doubts or lacking confidence. She said, “When you hear that voice of insecurity filling your head, shut that b*tch up!”
And I have taken her advice. Vulnerability might make us feel less confident, but I actually believe it’s our greatest mark of confidence.
Surround yourself with others who can help. Be empathetic, nurturing, supportive, and collaborative. Boost others up and push them forward by acknowledging your differences. Vulnerability means empathy. Empathy creates care. Those are the best ingredients for creating a team.
My new company, The Female Quotient, is all about helping companies create an algorithm for equality by hiring for diversity of skill sets and strengths. You need linear and analytic thinkers, but you also need people that color outside the lines. Otherwise, we’d all be eating vanilla ice cream. And I do like my vanilla ice cream — but there are so many other flavors.
Think with your brain; feel with your heart. It’s that simple. That’s how you thrive with vulnerability.