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  • Writer's pictureTarun Kumar

Accepting Vulnerability

So how do we learn? And why do some of us learn things more easily than others? What makes us strive for improvement or colloquially speaking be a better version of ourselves

Hi, I’m Col Tarun Kumar I am a Leadership proponent and these are the questions that fascinate me.

So understanding Leadership is one of the great frontiers in the understanding of human physiology, and also in the consideration of what makes us who we are. It’s an amazing time to be a Growth facilitator and, I would argue to you that I have the most interesting job in the world.

What we know about the Leaders is changing at a breathtaking pace, and much of what we thought we knew and understood about the Leaders turns out to be not true, or incomplete. Now some of these misconceptions are more obvious than others. For example, we used to think that leadership was to do with you rising up the ladder. And it turns out that nothing can be farther from the truth.

Another misconception about leaders is that you stop evolving as a leader on reaching an exalted stage in your life or career. Well, this is also untrue. It turns out that even when you are at the top and have no further avenues of progression, your leadership desire is highly active.

And perhaps the most exciting, the most interesting, and transformative of these discoveries is that every time you learn a new fact or skill, you change your leadership drive. It’s something we call the Essence of Leadership.

How many of you think it’s okay to show vulnerability? How many of you think that vulnerability is a weakness? In fact, one interesting discussion hovered around courage. While I was sharing the details of an operation we conducted against insurmountable odds, I remember one member of the audience raising his hand to ask a question - Where do you get courage from? Don’t you guys have the notion of fear? I was getting it he was asking me about the vulnerability of human emotions which we generally hide behind the shroud of courage. Now if we were to look for courage then is courage a trait or a skill set? Does courage happen on its own or is accompanied by uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. I accepted in humble acknowledgment that there’s no courage without vulnerability.

Does this bring us to the cusp of understanding where we consider whether courage is a personality trait or a skill set? When you think life is getting easy you find difficult options emerging - making choices more of a dilemma. Is courage the willingness to show up or be seen? Moreover, is it a skill that can be learned?

So what I did was to understand what teachable Leadership skills were imparted while I was undergoing the military training - Translated to current day requirements they can be listed as -

  1. Accepting vulnerability - can you stay in the game when going gets tough or do you throw in the towel

  2. Maintaining the Value system - Are you clear about what they are & have they been integrated with your behavior patterns what stays and what doesn’t?

  3. Continuing with the Trust - Can you build Trust & at the same time be trusted by other Team members

  4. Rising against all odds - When life throws you against the wall how do you get up, dust your self and do the unthinkable. Yes, where others would scamper for shelter, you’re willing to catch the bull by the horns because you believe in your ability, the control that you exercise over the situation & your faith in your training & teammates.

As it turns out most courageous people are the ones who were resilient to get up every time they fall. The broken heart is the bravest amongst us because they have the courage to love.

What I’ve learned is that

Courage is incredibly contagious as is Fear. We must remember that each one of us is grappling with similar emotions yet projecting it differently in the environment. You can absolutely get masses of people behind you if you do 2 things -

Recognize uncertainty and take people in uncertainty and guarantee certainty. Also, highlight who is responsible for their pain.

We must also understand that fear has a very short shelf life and you cannot continue for very long and the damage you are going to do while you can do that. It’s not sustainable.

Why is vulnerability so important to Leadership? We must understand that accepting everything that you find problematic is not akin to being a Leader. Vulnerability is not disclosure but the management of uncertainty, risk & emotional exposure, can you stay in a hard conversation, can you tell the truth, can you give feedback when it’s hard, and more importantly can you ask for feedback when it’s hovering over difficult times.

Vulnerability acceptance is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, trust, empathy, and courage leading to your Leadership.

One attribute that all Leaders need or accept -

Clear is kind

Unclear is unkind

Stop avoiding the tough conversations

If you think you are being kind to people you’re sadly mistaken. The biggest casualty is the inability to accept vulnerability as a strength, to really be who we are. So those of us who fight the big fight on the outside in no way can give up the fight on the inside - Do you have it in YOU?

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