You must have seen it coming: after all of these weeks …
From the moment we are born we are vulnerable to – well, to everything. Very quickly, and as best we can we begin to tap into strategies that keep us invulnerable to starvation for nourishment and nurturing. We begin to calculate –developing strategic ways to get what we need and perhaps what we want. Our parents can tell a cry that means a diaper needs changing from a cry that says I’m hungry. We learn very quickly how to take care of the situation and minimize vulnerability.
As calculating as we can be, there comes a moment when we are whacked upside the head with the proverbial 2×4, which knocks us senseless and into an even more shrewd way of being in order to avoid any further vulnerability. We continually build on this until we’ve well established, what Tracy Goss calls, our winning strategy. She calls it a winning strategy because it keeps you winning at getting what you want, when you want; until it doesn’t. At some point it becomes clear that this winning strategy limits what’s possible and though you remain invulnerable, which seems like a good thing, you are unable to access what’s necessary to have what you say you want. The only way to shift this process is to willingly risk being vulnerable – only in service to what you say you want.
Remember earlier when I talked about that moment when you decided to be invulnerable? In that instant what occurred that had you make that decision was too painful and too challenging for a little kid to handle. As a kid you had no one to tell you that you are going to be okay. In that moment you were all alone and alone you made that choice to protect yourself at all cost.
At some point in each lifetime we are required to meet again that moment when we have to be willing to risk what we couldn’t risk as a child. We have to trade invulnerability for what we say we want. Now, being an adult, we’ve had plenty of experiences where we calculatingly traded our invulnerability for vulnerability. Trying out for various sports, asking someone for a date, applying to colleges and jobs, asking for a raise; each of these were instances where you chose vulnerability in order to get what you wanted. This is a very good thing and indicates you know how to stretch and strengthen the muscles required to take the risk. What has us be able to risk some times and not others, in other words what has us be more vulnerable in some circumstances while not in others?
In the world of business the majority of us are walking around limited by our winning strategies, remaining invulnerable. This keeps us safe, secure and stable but also most of the time unfulfilled. I’ve begun working with a new client, Patricia, who has phenomenal skills in her line of business but is scared to death to risk losing the stability she’s created, even though she is terribly miserable in her work. She is not alone. Approximately four out of five individuals feel the same way as Patricia.
When Patricia thinks about quitting her job and changing careers she feels like a tiny incapable human being. In that moment she’s calling up the young child to be vulnerable. Think about it for just a moment. We approach this moment of risk as if we were that young innocent child, not the grown up that has risked many times before and come up successful.
The evidence is stacked up in your favor that you will survive taking risks. At the same time you hold on to that one instance in your life when all was lost (because you were only a little kid and didn’t have the wisdom of a grownup to deal with the fallout). You were lost and not yet found. Yes, not yet found.
When what’s at stake is more important to you than the safety of the prison you’ve built through the practice of invulnerability, you are, in that moment, given the opportunity to find yourself. Lost or left behind, you can re-member and reclaim any and all aspects of the you, you left behind. It is an exquisite reunion, one you’ll never forget.
Patricia knows that hiding out within the walls that protect her will never replace the feeling of fulfillment she knows exists outside. In this moment, while you are reading this, she is calculating what’s at stake and if it’s worth the risk.
Our business, the work we bring to the world, I believe to be the most crucial aspect of self-expression. And, I also believe that self-expression, in whatever form that takes, is essential to thriving. To empower yourself and others to step out beyond the walls that only seemingly keep you safe, you create an opening in the current reality for a paradigm shift. You have no idea the positive repercussion that follows such an act. Even the slightest movement in the direction of what you want, which requires risk and faith, will reward you with a sense of accomplishment that is in itself a beautiful remuneration. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?
There is great value in investing in a thinking partner for yourself or for those you want to empower. According to statistics, hiring a coach is crucial to growing yourself and your business. Reading pieces like this is a start, yet without action nothing changes.
Enjoy the adventure!
This article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.