How to be vulnerable at work

I’d planned a big night out with my wife at one of my favorite music venues, the Charleston Music Hall.

We were headed to a Gillian Welch concert.

Gillian is a modern day folk musician that has some amazingly hauntingly beautiful lyrics and music.

She has quite a musical pedigree with a Grammy and lots of collaboration with Allison Kraus, Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, The Decemberists, etc…

That night I was really enjoying the show just like I have so many other concerts but something happened that made her show extremely memorable.

It seared the moment into my memory and took my love of her and the music to an entirely different level.

It connected me to her in a way that I’ll never forget…

When a Leader is Exposed and Takes a Risk

In the moment, Gillian decided to unplug her guitar and sit on the front of the stage with no microphone in front of  1,000 people.

Then she said,

“let’s see how quiet you can be”,

the proceeded to sing barely over a whisper to enthralled onlookers with mouths wide open.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard 1,000 people be that quiet.

She was exposed and taking a risk.

Could we all hear her?

Is this really a good idea?

What if the drunk guy behind me starts yelling again?

Despite any concerns, I can tell you that we all loved her in that moment.

When a Leader Becomes Vulnerable

What happens when a leader in the office goes unplugged, takes a risk, and is vulnerable in your office?

What happens when you step out from behind your title and your executive façade and lay it all on the line?

When you’re exposed and at risk it’s scary but…

But there’s a connection.

There’s love.

There’s appreciation.

There’s inspiration.

Why Vulnerability Works at the Office

How to lay it on the line and be vulnerable

At the office it seems like vulnerability often comes up as a negative thing.

It can have a connotation of weakness.

In reality, being vulnerable is one of the most courageous things you can do at the office.

When you’re vulnerable people can’t help but connect with what you’re doing.

It’s so that rare people can’t help but watch.

They can’t wait to see what happens next.

How to be Vulnerable at Work

There’s not necessarily a straight path to being vulnerable at work.

Everyone seems to have their own version but here are a few starting points:

  • Empower others – Remarkably by giving power away you actually gain it.
  • Collaborate with people at the office you disagree with – When you step over the line and decide to work closely with someone you disagree with amazing results are possible.
  • Share your feelings with your coworkers and ask them about their own – Yes, I said it…sharing feelings at work. This is touchy feely but when you’re being vulnerable there’s always going to be an element of that involved.
  • Take on projects that have a possibility of failing – When the project you’re working on can fail and you’re really putting yourself out there, it adds an entirely higher level of energy, motivation, and spirit.
  • Start making business personal – This is probably the most uncomfortable recommendation on this list, and the easiest one to do right here, right now.

If you’re still on the fence about giving vulnerability a try, asking yourself:

What’s the consequence of not being vulnerable?  What are you and all of us missing out on?

Ultimately what you have got to lose? Life’s too short.

To Igniting Your Career!
Ben

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PPS:  Here is one of my favorite Gillian Welch songs, Red Clay Halo.  It’s a fun song about the red clay Alabama (where I grew up).  She really nails it!

PPPS: If you’re having a rough day, I recommend checking out this video where Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show cover The Weight