Nov 22 2014
Five years ago, my brothers and I did a day-long endurance race – running and cycling around Nashville and doing mental challenges a la Amazing Race.
One of the events we came to was coffee bean counting. My brothers and I are not stupid. But for this event, we were.
The challenge was to count out 1,000 coffee beans. It took us forever. We were one of the first teams to arrive at the challenge, and we kept seeing teams leave before us.
Finally, we understood what we were missing.
There was a scale that was made available to us but we didn’t use it. Teams were counting 50 or 100 coffee beans and weighing them. Then they multiplied that weight by 20 (for the 50 beans) or 10 (for the 100 beans) and added beans to the scale until it weighed that number.
We made something relatively simple relatively difficult because we looked at the problem the wrong way.
My incomplete definition of vulnerability is “acting toward or speaking something to another person without knowing how they’ll react.”
We could be rejected. And that never feels good.
But here’s a different way to think about vulnerability.
Vulnerability is sharing truth with someone else.
Notice what that definition doesn’t include? Anything about a reaction from the other person. Vulnerability is about telling someone a truth. They may not like the truth you tell them but it doesn’t make what you say less true!
When we focus on the reactions of other people, we imagine the worst. We focus on our fear and not the truth. We put ourselves in a prison, keeping our best and most valuable words locked away to wither. Fear of man is a lousy master.
Think about a few of the ways fear messes up our lives:
- Prevents you from telling some woman or man how you actually feel about them
- Prevents you from telling someone something really nice you believe about them
- Prevents you from telling someone about your faith or some other truth they really need to hear
When you speak, speak the truth – whether you’re talking about the capital of Nevada or the person who is the capital of your heart.
I don’t want to be heavy-handed, but by definition, not to share the truth is to lie. In a somewhat counterintuitive way, when we’re NOT vulnerable, we’re a bit dishonest to the truest parts of ourselves.
Recently, a good friend of mine took a big risk. She wrote a note to a guy she liked. At one time the guy had shown a lot of interest, but she wasn’t feeling it. So after a while, the guy moved on. Somehow, after 18 months, she ended up liking him and wrote him a short, poetic, beautiful, powerful love letter even though she was pretty sure he wasn’t interested anymore. But he was. And they’re dating now. And really happy to be with each other. All because he was vulnerable with her for months and she became vulnerable with him.
Open yourself up. Focus on the truth of what’s inside. Not the reaction on the outside. Be vulnerable.
Let life come through your mouth!