I recently read Brené Brown’s new book, Dare to Lead. In it, Brown shares 6 Myths of Vulnerability. The last myth is that “Vulnerability is Disclosure.” Brené Brown does not think you should share your whole life story and all your problems with everyone you meet to be a good leader (phew!). She clarifies: “Vulnerability is about leaning into rather than walking away from the situations that make us feel uncertain, at risk, or emotionally exposed.”
She talks about the importance of boundaries; the vital importance of working through your fears and challenges with people you trust, and emphasizes that you will be a better leader if you rumble with vulnerability in your teams and organizations.
It is not a paradox, she claims to believes both:
- I am not a proponent of oversharing, indiscriminate disclosure as a leadership tool, or vulnerability for vulnerability’s sake.
- There is no daring leadership without vulnerability.
As I was reading through some of the beautiful commemorations of the work, life and impact of Rachel Held Evans’ last weekend I was struck by the following tweet by Kevin Garcia:
I think this resonates in an important way with what Brené Brown advices in Dare to Lead.
Writing is a powerful and important way to process our lives, think about big things, and work through our pain. But not all of that writing needs to be published. If you haven’t healed from something, if you’re not okay, sharing the raw unprocessed emotions exposes you to new pain and hurt.
From my reading experience, there are people who bravely and vulnerably share intense experiences in their writing. But the best writing shares that vulnerability for a purpose. Not just for the sake of vulnerability.
The way I think of it, tabloids share people’s intimate information (whether it’s true or not) to hot-wire connection. I hate to tell anyone what to do, but I worry in this age of social media that many of us create tabloid versions of our lives. Sure, people might read it. Click on it. Like it. But that doesn’t make it good for us.
I think our souls need safe spaces with friends, family, and therapists (and these people can be online, but in person people are important). These people can help us feel our way through our difficult moments and compost our failures, pain and challenges into something we can grow, lead and share from.