Vulnerability: it's when we feel fragile, uncertain, and isolated. But there's a power hidden in being vulnerable, says Brené Brown, professor of social work at the University of Houston and author of the book "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead."
Brown discusses the power and paradox of vulnerability. "It's the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I'm going to show you." In an attempt to understand the anatomy of connection — how we connect to others, and what prevents us from forming those connections — Brown discovered that, perhaps counter-intuitively, the more vulnerable you are with someone, the more likely you are to find a connection.
Brown herself has benefited from the discoveries that she's made in her research. Raised in Texas, she was taught, as many people are, to avoid vulnerability at all costs. But what she found was that, perhaps counter-intuitively, those who are willing to engage with their vulnerability are the ones who are able to be the most open-hearted, and the most able to connect with friends, family, and co-workers.
"Everything is about emotional resonance. Do I see my story and my struggles reflected in not what you say you're going to do, but in who you are?" If the answer is no, then we disengage — if someone is not vulnerable, then it's difficult to relate to them, and to see them as human.
Even beyond its importance for human connection, taking risks and being vulnerable is essential for innovation. Brown says you would be hard-pressed to find an example of creativity or innovation that did not stem from vulnerability.
Overcoming shame, and allowing ourselves to take risks and ask for help is important not only for our personal and professional success, but also for our success as a culture.