• Corey S Gladwell

Vulnerability & Identity in Business.

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

As entrepreneurs, we inherently open ourselves up to a lot of risk.

Our wellbeing, that is, putting food on the table, depends upon the project we are working on and its success. There is a possibility our project may fail, and so we leave ourselves open and rather vulnerable.

Vulnerability is important as entrepreneurs and it is an integral part of everyday life for us.

We risk our ideas, our vision, and constantly run the risk of being utterly wrong. Our vulnerability and the risks we take are constantly in a dance together, carefully balancing each other. To be vulnerable means to be open, such that anyone can see who you truly are. You are open about what you truly want.

It is also essential to realize that you are not defined by the success or outcomes of putting your ideas into practice, or the things that you create and put out in the world. If your product, service, or idea fails, you do not need to take on that failure as a persona, or even feel like a failure yourself. Remember, there is always a trial and error process; your products or services will not be 100% perfect from the get-go.

People tie too much of what they are creating to who they are as a person. They think that if it fails, therefore, they fail. You must let go of failure as your identity by allowing vulnerability into your life and realizing you will have tons of failure before you have success. You are not that failure; your idea was just not something that was ready to succeed. Your idea may come back later, it may succeed at a different time, but it was not ready yet.

To be vulnerable, you have to be open to people’s criticism and judgment. When you pull back the curtain and examine what is really going on, you will discover that it is actually just you judging yourself. You are holding yourself back because you are afraid of your own self-judgement.

Nothing anyone can say to you can ever really affect you unless you already believe it about yourself. When something offends you, it is because some part of you believes it to be true already. Something within you agrees with the comment the person is making. When you let go of self-judgement, of taking things personally, of believing that you are your ideas, then you are free to create without limits. Nothing anyone can say can negatively affect you when you reach this place. Their own self-limiting beliefs of what is possible is responsible for their judgement of you.

When I started my first Facebook fan page, I grew it to 10,000 people within 4 months – and you have to know that when you get to that many people, there will be negativity. Most of the comments were positive, but as the page grew, there was obviously more opportunity for negative comments to surface. People would say hurtful things or argue trivially and without consideration of anyone else’s viewpoint, but I knew everything they said was only really a reflection of themselves. It was because of something inside themselves, an issue they had not accepted, or a problem they had not been able to deal with appropriately, which they then mirrored onto me.

When you can access your vulnerability, you will learn that nothing can really hurt you unless you let it, and so you can prevent yourself from feeling as if you are failing. You must acknowledge that you are on a journey to success; you are continuously trying and erring to improve your idea, service, or product.

The goal is not to prove anything to anyone. Adopt this attitude and you will find that no one can really harm or damage who you are. You cannot fail unless you believe you are failing. Being vulnerable - allowing yourself to try, and potentially fail, in order to succeed - frees you up to be able to do, create and have anything you want in life.

Encouraging this vulnerability stops you from thinking you have to be perfect, and in turn, you will not die from perfectionism. Many of us struggle with the eternal pursuit of perfection, of needing things to be exactly a certain way before we ever try. By doing that, we waste so much time and so many valuable lessons because we never go out and implement.

Taking action is the one thing that will lead you to any kind of success, and fear of taking action is what will ultimately hold you back. Actually doing and going through the process of failure is the only step you need to take to really unveil where your true successes lie.

This is Where Playing Small Comes In...

You will always end up playing small if you don’t embrace vulnerability. You will never want to others to see the real you. You might join a group online, buy a course, or read a book, but you will never take action. You will avoid stepping out into the limelight because you will always be afraid of failing. You will be afraid of others seeing you for who you truly are. You immerse yourself in learning more and more in order to feel better about hiding. Your fear of being vulnerable, of everyone else seeing you for who you truly are and what you want will direct you to a life where you hide your true potential.

When you let go of the fear of being seen by others, the fear of being wrong and the fear of failing, you will acquire more opportunities to play big. Only when you play big are you ever truly able to succeed in life.

Playing small - not allowing yourself to access your vulnerability - will keep you stuck where you are for an indeterminate amount of time. You will never launch, never go for your dreams, and never try. Alternatively, if you do try, you will only try enough to reach a point where others cannot fully perceive you. You stay in your comfort zone, stuck behind the curtain so no one can ever see you and criticize you. That way, you will always have an excuse:

“Oh well, I wasn't really trying to succeed; I didn't really want to become that successful. I only wanted to make $50,000.”

Now, there's nothing wrong with making $50,000; however, you do need to examine why your goal is $50,000 or whatever amount you have set it. If you are only staying at a certain level because you are afraid of jumping, of becoming bigger and grander than you are right now, you need to reassess.

On the flip side, playing big gives you access to all the unlimited possibilities life has to offer. There is an abundance of business contacts, ways to launch, ways to diversify and to grow your business that you can have access to if you open your mind to being visible, to stepping into the unknown and being unafraid to fail. Playing big will allow you to be aware of these opportunities. They were always there right in front of you, but you just could not notice them when you were playing small.

When I first got into business, I stayed in learning mode for far too long, always thinking there was just one more thing I had to learn, do or try before I could implement, take action and launch. The notion that there was always just one more thing to know and perfect held me back for months, even years, because I thought there was always something else I didn't know. I finally realized that there will always be things I do not know, but I have to try to implement with what I do know.

Once I finally learned this and started doing instead of just absorbing more information, I realized that I knew so much more than I thought. Trying, failing, and implementing, are the only ways to fully grasp and understand your life and business’ biggest lessons.


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