…. a thing I often think about you but don’t know if I’ve said: You reveal such a humanity and self-forgiveness in little instances of embarrassment (i.e. the Helen’s cello moment) that I’m sometimes convinced that’s the sole reason a gaffe has happened. It’s a break in your poised demeanor that I always note your ability to meet with humility but without shame.That’s rarely witnessed, publicly or privately, and I think it is the definition of “grace under pressure” or just plain grace.
ExecutiveBiz: Your book discusses four mindsets — vulnerability, generosity, candor, and accountability — that you say are essential to building lifeline relationships. Of the four, vulnerability may be hardest to implement. Any tips to embrace that mindset smartly?
Keith Ferrazzi: It’s about practice. Pick a few places and practice being more real. Let your guard down a bit. Let somebody know your concerns. See how much closer and loyal people become.
ExecutiveBiz: Obviously, though, you shouldn’t share with everyone, particularly in a corporate setting.
Keith Ferrazzi: Despite the fact it’s become vogue to think so, the truth is very few people out there are proactively going to hurt you. That said, the answer is go with the people you feel safe with. What will happen is you become more courageous, you will feel safer, you broaden your circle. Eventually you get to people you would never have expected sharing with. You find they were ready, willing, and waiting to be held in trust.
Here are two major benefits I’ve noticed since exploring increased vulnerability:
1. Living authentically frees up new reserves of energy. I didn’t realize how much effort I put into trying to be slightly different from who I am. It takes work, day in and day out! Own your shortcomings and all that extra energy that used to go into covering things up can now be used for more productive activities. Plus, it’s much easier to get guidance when you put all your cards on the table.
2. Let the emotion show (at the appropriate time), and people will really care. Recently, I signed up for personal development course targeted toward women. Usually, I wouldn’t share this type of information at work, especially with male colleagues, because it feels so personal. However, I was so excited about the course, I couldn’t help but tell the everybody in the office during a social break one afternoon, including two male partners! Now everyone checks in on my progress and it’s a real pleasure to talk about something that is meaningful to me.
Has vulnerability connected you more to others — either as the person being vulnerable or as the person receiving it?