Embracing ‘Vulnerability’ to achieve our Dreams!

Written by parthaiyengar

October 7, 2013

It has been quite a while that I wrote a blog post. The single biggest reason is ‘what should I share’ when gloom and doom is all around us. Is there anything at all that is inspiring and motivating us to get up every day cheerfully and do our bit that will impact our lives and the society successfully? My favorite authors (whose articles I read everyday) and friends seem to have given up all their optimism about us and our country. In fact, in our personal lives too we faced some critical moments that made me wonder whether ‘truth’ will prevail over ‘corruption’ and prove that ‘money can’t buy everything or everyone’.

Three events in the last 4 weeks validated my belief further that all is not lost and we do not have to give up or wait for things to happen. Yes! We can make it happen.

  1. I watched this awesome TED Talk by Dr Brene Brown on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’.
  2. Co-incidentally I received my latest newsletter from Money Quotient which had dedicated an entire piece ‘Embracing Vulnerability’ as part of Life Lessons.
  3. I watched the movie ‘Airplanes’ with my soulmate, her younger sister and her little son. We enjoyed the 3D movie so much!


Dr Brown’s TED video is the Top 10 most watched video in the worldwide.

She is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller, ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead’.

The phrase ‘Daring Greatly’ came from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech:
“…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.”

When Brown listened to Roosevelt’s 1910 speech at University of Paris on ‘Citizenship in a Republic’, what caught her attention was this famous phrase:
“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, … 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.”

Brown explained that the first time she read this quote she thought, “This is vulnerability.” Based on more than a decade of researching this multifaceted emotion, she had learned that vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, but rather understanding the necessity of both:

“It’s being all in. I think the first thing we have to do is figure out what’s keeping us out of the arena.”

In an interview, Brown was asked, “What are the first three steps to daring greatly?” She replied that she is not a fan of prescribed steps or tips because it is not a linear process, nor as easy as the steps can imply. However, it can be as simple as “showing up and being seen.” She further explained:

“It’s about owning our vulnerability and understanding it as the birthplace of courage and the other meaning-making experiences in our lives.”

The truth is that most of us have been conditioned not to reveal our vulnerability. Brown wrote:

“In our culture, vulnerability has become synonymous with weakness. We associate vulnerability with emotions like fear, shame, and scarcity; emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we live, love, parent, and lead.”

In contrast, Brown’s research reveals that important positive outcomes emerge from stepping into the arena of vulnerability:

“The thing that I have learned is that vulnerability is at the center of fear and shame, but it is also the center of joy and gratitude and love and belonging.”

The truth is, it is only when we expose ourselves, perhaps in a personal relationship or in our work, that “we have experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.” Vulnerability is also at the heart of true leadership:

“Re-humanizing work and education requires courageous leadership. It requires leaders who are willing to take risks, embrace vulnerabilities, and show up as imperfect, real people. That’s what truly, deeply inspires us.”

Dr Brown’s research is very inspiring for every one of us who want to DREAM BIG and leverage our vulnerabilities to our advantage.

This brings to the context the film- ‘Airplanes’. I am sure some of you would have seen it and enjoyed it with your little ones. Do you remember the hero ‘Duster’ who flies the agricultural fields but dreams of winning round the world championship race that involves flying at higher speed as well as higher altitude! Not to mention competing with the world champions. The whole story is all about how he overcomes the ‘fear’ of flying higher and tackles challenges on the way to becoming the world champion. Duster clearly exhibits his ‘vulnerability’ moments but uses it to overcome his fears. In fact his mentor too has his ‘vulnerability’ moments that is captured so well.

I think Duster is a wonderful example of how one could dream big and still achieve it despite the vulnerabilities or sometimes serious handicaps that may prevent us from dreaming big and making it all happen.

And as far as our personal battle that we fought, the good news is we won and the ‘truth’ did prevail! Another day, shall live to tell that story with my soulmate!

Research credits for Dr Brene Brown – www.moneyquotient.org

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