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How To Fully Embrace Vulnerability in Order to Excel in Your Career

In her TEDxHouston presentation, Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, speaks about how learning to embrace the one thing that frightens us most – vulnerability – is the secret to living a happy, fulfilled, and courageous life.

tedtalks on vulnerability

(Photo Credit: Victor1558/Flickr)

Brown dedicated her research to better understanding human connection because, as she explains in her presentation, “the ability to feel connected, is […] why we’re here” on Earth, and ”[i]t's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” However, shortly into her research, Brown discovered something that interfered with her study – something that “unraveled connection” – and she soon identified it as shame, or “the fear of disconnection.”

What people don’t realize is that when they starve themselves of opportunity due to feelings of shame or vulnerability, they also, unknowingly, starve themselves of the potential joy, happiness, and triumph that comes with overcoming your fears in life. Not everyone, though, is limited by fear and vulnerability – these are the people who live their lives “wholeheartedly” and “from a deep sense of worthiness,” as Brown explains.

What separates the shameful and the “whole-hearted” people of the world, then? The answer is simple, Brown discovered, “They believed they’re worthy” and “fully embrace vulnerability.” Therefore, instead of avoiding things, people, or situations that make us feel uncomfortable in life, Brown suggests that we embrace uncertainty and find the confidence (or worthiness) to forge ahead into the unknown.

We’re all taught that nobody is perfect; however, so many people strive for perfection in their lives and, especially, their careers. As a professional, it’s easy to get caught up in your insecurities throughout your career, whether it be a condescending boss, being denied a promotion, or simply not feeling fulfilled in your current career. Consider the many business moguls of our time who have failed time and time again during their careers, but who now have booming empires despite these failures. These leaders had the willpower to pick up the pieces and rebuild the lives and the careers that they believed they were worthy of.

As you head into the New Year, remember that a flourishing career is built on connection and relationships – some scarier than others. Embrace the uncertainty that life throws your way because, as Brown reminds us, vulnerability is also “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

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