I’ve been working at my current job for a year and a half now.
When I joined this company, I took a major pay cut because I believed in the culture.
I loved how the company lived and made decisions by the core values set by the founder, a caring and hard-working entrepreneur who turned a carpet cleaning business into a digital marketing business that helped other carpet cleaners–and later, HVAC contractors, electricians, pressure washers, restoration businesses, and other “small guys” as one of the core values state we champion on a daily basis.
This was the first company that allowed me to be myself and bring my love of processes and systems to the table to improve the way things were currently being done.
But I brought a lot of emotional baggage to the job as well.
You see, I’m the kind of person that can’t stop. I’m always looking to make things better.
And it has a tendency to come across as intense and arrogant.
But I truly mean well.
I am curious about almost everything, and once I spot a new pattern, I want to grab onto it and use it to improve what’s around me.
This has sometimes caused problems in my work relationships. It’s left people feeling intimidated or angry that I’m upsetting the normal ways that work gets done.
Because each work relationship goes two ways, and each work relationship requires emotional vulnerability.
When I’m putting myself out there and proposing ideas, or when I’m offering to help make something better, I really mean it. I believe in it with all my heart.
But others don’t always see it that way.
So at the start of this new job, I was sometimes viewed as the New Yorker who moved back to Montana and didn’t really understand how people live in this place.
It took vulnerability to change all that.
Because our lives are wrapped up with one another.
Everything occurs within the context of relationships.
I guarantee your life and my life would have a lot less meaning if we couldn’t live them in relation to others.
In fact, it probably would have no meaning at all.
We operate in a shared environment, and being open to the range of positive and negative emotions is the key to creating meaning in our relationships and happiness in our lives.
Let’s do a check-in to see if any of this holds true for you based on my life.
I feel anxiety in my relationships because:
- I worry I’m not good enough
- I think if people learned about the real me, they might not want to spend time with me
- I fear being authentic means that I’ll be “too much” for other people
- I think some of my habits, thoughts, and behaviors make me an oddball
- I don’t want others to see that I deal with uncomfortable feelings
- I worry that my feeling of vulnerability will be seen as a feeling of weakness
How’d you do?
Did you win the Vulnerability Olympics?
Are you human like I am?
Some of those were still hard to write. I felt a twinge of panic as I typed the words.
So why did I do it then?
For the same reason that I decided to continue to be myself at work.
What happened over the next 3, 6, and 9 months of work tested my resolve and belief in the power of vulnerability.
Because going first with your emotions does not always mean that it will be reciprocated right away.
That’s at the heart of vulnerability after all: you put yourself and your difficult emotions out there and hope that someone sees you for who you are and, in turn, sees themselves in you.
This is the most likely outcome.
Nine times out of ten, when I share my difficult emotions that have emerge from my difficulties and failures, at least one person says, “Me too.”
This is what happens.
The more open I was, the more came to me in a good way.
A coworker asked me if I wanted to be the general manager instead of her.
She saw my courage and knew I could handle the role better than her.
She went first by saying that.
Her admitting that and offering me the position was one of the most courageous actions I’ve ever witnessed.