Your Journey: The Origin of WHealthYour Journey: The Origin of WHealth https://www.bodywhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Vulnerable-03-1024x536.jpg 1024 536 BodyWHealth https://www.bodywhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Vulnerable-03-1024x536.jpg
New beginnings are hard, not the least because you often start with your face in the mud after a precipitous fall or a steady and undignified slide aided by the gravity of life.
This week I started a new cohort of WHealth Seekers on their exciting journey. These are wonderful moments in my professional life, but often painful.
Each of us has our own unique story, characterized by multiple beginnings and endings as we page through the chapters of our life. Many of my clients are looking for a re-boot. They come to me to find inspiration and guidance at the conclusion of a particularly grim chapter.
As I start the journey with this new class, their hopefulness is heavily masked by fatigue and sadness. As I look into the eyes of my new friends, I look for signs of strength I have come to recognize as a key ingredient to a successful re-start. I probe to find the telltale signs of vulnerability.
Many of us were raised by parents who saw vulnerability as a weakness. In great kindness, they worked to suppress an instinct that they thought would stunt our achievements and induce pain. I couldn’t disagree more vehemently with this well intentioned training. For over thirty years now, I have worked with people aspiring to unlock their best selves. It is my recurring experience, an observation substantiated by research in the social sciences, that those who are successful, those who end up being tenacious and resilient, share one common starting point: they embrace their vulnerability.
Brené Brown, a well-known social scientist who catapulted to fame after her TED talk on vulnerability, encourages us to celebrate the moment when we are “face down in the arena”. She quotes the deeply meaningful excerpt from a Theodore Roosevelt’s speech:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As I look around the room at the faces marred by dust and sweat, I’m looking for the spark of vulnerability that ignites the flames of change. I have deep respect for my new clients. It takes immense courage to embrace vulnerability. I’m honored that they share it with me. I’m excited to meet them again next week.
I wish you all the strength and courage to embrace your own vulnerability, especially in times when you’re feeling pain, even shame. This is the origin of greatness. This is the font of WHealth!