I spent a lot of time showing how strong and smart I was at work. It wasn’t until we had a little lunch and learn session on a concept called ‘growth mindset’ did I realize what a fixed mindset I had – part of the traits of a person with a fixed mindset are…always trying to show that you’re the smartest in the room.
Are you imagining me sitting in that conference room with a look on my face that crosses confusing, bewilderment and sheepish? That was me that day and a quite a few days after.
This mini workshop stemmed from the book Mindset by Carol Dweck (which I still haven’t read by the way, should I?). I was so boggled at the idea that in order to for me to grow and ultimately achieve greater success at work, I had to stop doing what I was doing. It felt unnatural and uncomfortable and scary.
Vulnerable. The word was vulnerable. But I didn’t know that word yet.
I was confronted with this word by my acting coach. I took on doing a scene from Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune and oh my gosh was it uncomfortable for me. Not because the scene was intimate – but because I was uncomfortable with being vulnerable – even acting it. My acting coach told me my greatest strength was in being vulnerable. Remember that look on my face from earlier? Insert that picture here again.
I decided vulnerability was a sign of weakness (a concept I recently learned is shared by many, thank you Brene Brown. I set out to never expose myself in a way that would allow someone to see where they could take advantage of me. At work, this meant, never being late, over analyzing and over preparing, and sometimes – missing deadlines in the pursuit of perfection.
Counterproductive – I know. Well, I know NOW anyway.
I still have to actively push against this idea that the world is out to get me. I do this by asking for help at the gym when I don’t know how to use a piece of equipment. Admitting that I didn’t make time to follow up on a request from a friend. Sometimes it’s as simple as the brave act of picking up the phone and calling to ask for clarification on something (putting on hold the judgement and resulting anger).
The immediate benefits of this? Knowledge, clarity, relief to name a few. Long term: when we are vulnerable, we allow ourselves to connect with others on a deeper level and build stronger relationships. Vulnerability also helps us build resilience and cope with difficult situations more effectively.
If that sounds counter intuitive to you – think about it. How do we learn if we don’t ask questions? If we make assumptions and never challenge them? Do you feel closer to someone who asks for your opinion and listens and considers what you are saying? Or to someone who always has all the answers?
If you’re feeling stuck and need a partner to help challenge some of your assumptions (which you may not even realize you hold) – give me a call? You can schedule some time with me and we can see where we want to go from there.