I’m wondering about being a leader and being vulnerable.
It’s clear that some vulnerability is OK.
Some is not OK.
Some makes others feel better.
Some makes others feel gross.
But what separates good vulnerability from icky?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I published a video of me at the tail end of a melt down. I’m cool with it. But I’ve been asking myself why.
I heard from buckets of people about it.
Some said they were going through the same thing and they were so grateful I talked about it.
Some said this is why they have me as their coach.
I’m sure some others rolled their eyes. They didn’t email to tell me about it though, thank God.
I’m sure some decided they wouldn’t want to work with a weakling such as me. The horror!!!
When I was going through coach training, my mentor Martha Beck got on the phone to teach one of our classes and she was a wreck. She was dealing with technology which is the frenemy of almost everyone I know. She was late and overwhelmed. Scattered and a wee bit crazy.
She was on the phone with us to teach us. To show us how to do this magical thing she does. But she was a perfect mess. We took turns coaching her to help her find her way out of it. We were new and green. Every one of us who spoke us did so bumbling and hesitantly.
I watched her break down and then come back together. She had the courage to fall apart in front of her students. When she was back together, she took a breath and was our teacher again. She was our teacher the whole way through.
I learned about falling apart and coming back together; shaky courage; that you can be a perfect mess and magical at the same time; and that hesitant coaching is good enough.
How much of our own shit do we need to have worked out before we lead others?
For sure we need to be ahead of them a little bit. But how much? One step ahead? Or 6 months ahead? Or basically-perfect-except-for-occasional-minor-infractions ahead?
Would you hire a weight loss coach who was 50 pounds overweight?
What if she had lost 50 already? What if she’d stayed 50 pounds overweight for years and nothing changed but she knew how other people could lose weight? Would you trust her more or stay away?
What about a basketball coach who can’t shoot 3 pointers?
Would you trust her guidance or say she doesn’t know what she’s talking about because she can’t do it?
There is no magic vulnerability formula.
Instead, just like everything else, you have to go inside to decide. Guidelines help.
Here are mine: I don’t share my problems, I share my solutions. If I’m too entrenched to see a real solution, I’m too entrenched to share it publicly.
Some bloggers are diarists. They live blog their lives. Tell stories about their screaming child, asshole husband and muffin top as it’s all happening.
I’m more of a teacher storyteller. I’m devoted to the truth and to imperfect magic. So I tell stories that are true after they happen, when they become a story and not just a mess.
Fine. Here’s your formula:
1. Create a guideline for what to share. This is based on who you are and how you want to interact in the world.
2. Check in with your body. It’s only 100% reliable.
3 ways to check in with your body
Option 1. Ask why. Are you sharing from love or fear?
Option 2. Check your stomach. Is it clenched in a not good way? Or does it feel expanded even if it’s jumping around with fear?
Option 3. Picture a high dive.
high dive A: Imagine you’re on the top of a high dive. Look down at a clear blue pool of water. The temperature is perfect. The water is just right. Notice how your stomach feels with this image.
high dive B: Imagine you’re on the top of a high dive. Look down at a murky pool of mucky yuck. The water is freezing. You don’t know what’s underneath the muddy surface. Notice how your stomach feels with this image.
Both will feel scary. One is a good scary–you should do it. One is a yuck scary–you shouldn’t.
What say you? How vulnerable are you comfortable being?