Updated: Mar 23
If you have seen 8 Mile, I am sure you have learned the lesson of laying all your shortcomings, insecurities, vulnerabilities, and things you are ashamed of bare.
If you haven't learned the lesson, you are an easy target. Just think about it. We all have stuff we rather have no one to know about; we have incompetence in our role, mistakes we made, social background, a bad marriage, and things that happened to us. We all hide something, and that is normal. Who wants others to know that we were fired from our previous role? Who wants others to know that we have been accused of sexual misconduct? Who wants others to know that we feel like a failure as leaders and often have no idea what to do? Who wants others to know that our lives outside of work are falling apart because our spouse just left us or somebody has gotten ill?
Actively hiding your insecurities consumes an immense amount of energy, and guess what? The world is small, and people are intuitive! Somebody will know about that stuff and is waiting to use it against you! I have done that! You have done that! We all have done that!
Information is a weapon, and we are ready to use it, especially when nothing else is left to get back at that person. So yes, be prepared for this.
But how can you be? By acknowledging and owning up to those things! When you have nothing to hide, all you will ask the people around you is, "What have you got to say about me that others don't already know?".
This is powerful but requires guts and the ability to be vulnerable. Hard? Extremely! But if you can do it, it is liberating! Do you know what else is liberating?
Stop Keeping Up Appearances
That's right! You are not Hyacinth Bucket! And on top of that, nobody cares. What people care about and are annoyed by is when you are fake and pretentious. This is when they deploy every piece of information in their possession to destroy you. So beat them to it! Lay bare everything they could use against you and would cause damage to your self-esteem, reputation, or career. When you do that, you come across as a humble person, and you also reduce danger.
Embrace raw fear toward vulnerability
Opening up even to our loved ones can be challenging, but it is a pure joy once you do it! Trust me, I know it. I used to hide or cover up many of my shortcomings and feelings. Today, I am upfront about what I suck at, what I am good at, and how I feel. You literally cannot embarrass me. This is the ultimate power, as those threats do not weaken me!
Being vulnerable means trusting but not trusting others so that they won't hurt you. You have no control over that. Trust that no matter what comes your way, you can handle that. Let it be a rejection when you express your love to someone or mean attacks from your colleagues. When you learn to trust yourself, all things are possible. Your strength aligns with who you are, not what you fear (including the potential threats from others). Any "strength" outside vulnerability is a lie and a facade driven by fear.
I have worked with many leaders, and I found that highly confident and competent leaders are incredibly open about their failures related to personal and professional lives. On the contrary, those desperate to maintain their reputation by painting the perfect picture of themselves are weak leaders.
So, say it first and don't give your "enemies" a weapon they can use against you. How? Well, it depends. Many clients have no idea, so I coach them through it. Some go overboard and share everything. It is a delicate balance, but when you find it, magic happens.