Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat. It’s understanding the necessity of both. It’s engaging. It’s being all in. [BRENÉ BROWN]
As 2022 hurtles to the end, I find myself almost in a state of shock as to how quickly it has gone and then added to that the fact that my son is finishing matric this year. Where have the past 13 years of school gone? How did my little boy grow up so quickly? In December he turns 18 and then next year flies the coup and heads to Stellenbosch University!
The unknown that 2023 will bring is bringing me more fear and anxiety than excitement. Why is that? Why can I not embrace this new phase or chapter with anticipation and happiness for him? Is it due to having to move out of my comfort zone, a space where I felt I was still in control?
Exploring the meaning of ‘comfort zone’
Brené Brown describes the phrase ‘comfort zone’ as ‘where our uncertainty, scarcity, and vulnerability are minimized-where we believe we will have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control’. When described like that, it is no wonder that we don’t like to leave this special place called the ‘comfort zone’.
I am afraid.
Afraid of what? Well timing would have it that there is currently a Brené Brown talk on Netflix, ‘The call to courage’, so I decided to settle in and enjoy an hour or so of her wisdom. I really encourage you to watch this but also thought I would share my takeaways for those of you who may also be battling to move out your comfort zone, be it in the workplace, your social life, or at home.
She speaks about being brave, choosing to live in the arena, getting your butt kicked, being prepared to fail and choosing courage over comfort.
One of the statements she made, spoke hugely to me as I do it so often. She said we are terrified to feel joy in case something or someone will take it away from you.
She says we dress rehearse tragedy and how she explains this is that when, as a parent, you love your child so deeply, that feeling of love leads us to thinking what can happen to them. Instead of practicing gratitude and living in the moment and being joyful we worry about ‘what could happen’.
We are also often so busy chasing the extra ordinary moments that we forget to appreciate the normal moments and it is those regular things that we miss the most when the person is not with us.
I also love how Brené says: “vulnerability is having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome”. To enable us to step out of our comfort zones, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is defined as …
… an openness or susceptibility to attack or harm: willingness to show emotion or to allow one’s weaknesses to be seen or known; willingness to risk …
Some of the myths of vulnerability tell us that it means ‘weakness’. However, it is quite the opposite as it requires us to be
brave, to step out of our comfort zones and take a chance, even if it means risking failure. It is about having those hard conversations at work or at home even when we fear or dread them.
What are your challenges?
Think of some challenges that you are facing or avoiding facing ….
As we step closer to our challenge and the fear increases, so does the sense of being vulnerable. We could be opening ourselves up to increased criticism, insults,and the dreaded failure.
So, what we tend to do is seek safety, surround ourselves with supportive people,and try to take as much control as we possibly can. We need to ask ourselves: what can we really control?
We make lists to feel more in control, we sometimes micromanage, but how is that helping us grow?
Dr Bonnie Wims says,
We need to see our comfort zone as a place to relax,recharge and rejuvenate but we can’t live there.
Did you know that empathy, trust, creativity, giving and receiving feedback, inclusivity, equity and ethical decision-making in the workplace are due to a culture of vulnerability?
To love is to be vulnerable.
Step out with me
As a colleague once said to me “…we teach best what we most need to learn”, so Iam going to work at stepping out with courage and being brave!
If you know me well, you will know how much I dread and fear change and yet change is inevitable! Living through Covid taught me that my fear of doing virtual facilitation was huge and yet here I am doing regular virtual facilitations which has allowed me to expand my client base worldwide!
My next challenge is to step out with courage and embrace this next phase of my son’s life and mine, with courage and joy!
What is your challenge and how can you step out of your comfort zone to face the scary and unknown?