Amy Haft, FEI Senior Account Manager

I’ve been attuned to the word “vulnerable” given recent headlines.

You could be living in a vulnerable area where your exposure to hurricanes is greater, or in an age group where you may be more vulnerable to anxiety, or taking on new responsibilities at work. Without doubt, it’s an uncomfortable feeling when you don’t know what the future holds. 

This was my experience when preparing for September’s Hurricane Florence as it barreled towards North Carolina, my new home state. My family and I prepared for the worst but didn’t know what to expect. Even for the neighborhood veterans of hurricanes, stress and anxiety were present. Some took it in stride while others, especially newcomers, were in a purgatory
of discomfort.

Now in retrospect, my family and I are tremendously relieved that the impact to our immediate area was small, but also feel deep sorrow for those who weren’t spared because they lived closer to the coast. The experience also gave me more insight into how people (myself included) deal with uncertainty and how we can prepare for the future, whether there is a hurricane at our backs or any kind of challenge that takes us out of our comfort zone. 

Since leaving 30-plus years of familiarity and moving to North Carolina almost two years ago, I’ve had practice being vulnerable and I’ve learned to lean into it. The noted author and University of Houston research professor Brené Brown, Ph.D., talks about the power of vulnerability, having the courage to be imperfect and to do something when there is no guarantee of success. (Her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” has been viewed over 30 million times.)

Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” In other words, there is much to be gained when taking the plunge into the unknown or taking even small risks. Brown emphasizes that courage is essential to risk-taking, especially if you find you need help along the way, or things don’t work out the way you hoped.

Many of us tend to play it safe at work, especially at the managerial or supervisory level. However, there are times when you need help problem solving, when you’re stuck, when you need feedback. Being frank with your team and asking for their input not only makes you more relatable, it also helps to create an atmosphere of collaboration.

How might this play out at your workplace? Are you willing to take on a new assignment, learn a new skill, apply for that promotion? Can you be candid with your team about your expectations and concerns?

Challenges can help you grow if you’re willing to take the first step. To be vulnerable.