The Value of Vulnerability

by: Amy Simmons

What do you do when you’re faced with a challenge?

Many of us put our heads down and simply push through on our own. But in doing so we often overlook a factor key to successfully moving through our struggles: vulnerability.

You have to be vulnerable not only to ask for help, but to look deep inside and cultivate true transformation.

Withdrawing into oneself is a far more typical response, particularly for the highly successful people we work with every day. They tend to have very deterministic views of the world, believing that if you want something in life, you should go get it—and do so on your own. Being faced with adversity can exacerbate that mindset. When you believe you should be able to seek out and achieve whatever you’re looking to accomplish, it’s hard to let other people help you move through it. But that’s such a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Accepting support and being vulnerable can be a superpower, enabling you to address and work your way through the most significant issues that arrive at the office and beyond. And if you’re in a leadership role, showing vulnerability not only demonstrates to others that being vulnerable is okay, it also invites them to be vulnerable—spurring their development and creating immeasurable growth throughout the organization.

Dr. Brené Brown, research professor the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, speaker, and author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, has studied vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame for more than a decade.

In her book, she explains that perfectionism is not the key to success. Rather, daring greatly—having the courage to show up and be seen—has far more potential in terms of your progress than attempting to maintain a flawless visage.

She notes, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”

So, the next time some difficulty arises, tap into vulnerability. Ask yourself how you can go all in, get the help you need, and demonstrate that doing so is more than okay; it’s encouraged. When you do, you’ll ignite organizational transformation from the inside out.

Our book, Unleashed: Harnessing the Power of Liminal Space, forthcoming from ForbesBooks this summer, lays out what we’ve learned about the transformative power of consciously wading into the unknown for individuals, teams, and organizations—and the tools to access those benefits.

Dan Schwabel, “Brené Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better,” Forbes, April 21, 2013,