I wasn't expecting the chill in the air that morning as I sat enjoying a thoughtful breakfast at a French café - joined by two very special boys. Apollo (more on him later) sat anxiously at my feet, waiting for the roasted potatoes I would inevitably pass under the table. My friend Matt sat to my right, patiently indulging me in the answers to all of the questions I had for him that day. We are constantly prodding at one another, he and I. Curiosity is always present - I like it.
A steaming mug of Earl Grey warmed my hands and I wished I'd brought a sweater - but in the very least, I had tea. Good enough.
"Ask me something." I said. Matt is skilled in the art of intentional questioning, and I knew whatever he had for me would offer an opportunity to ponder something I hadn't considered myself.
His expression was purposeful as he let the request stir. When he finally spoke, his inquiry was this:
"Have you heard the word "veritas?" I had, because it's tattooed on a character in my favorite movie, but I had never wondered what it meant. "It means 'the naked truth', real, raw vulnerability. What is your take on that, and how does it relate to your business?"
One word came to me instantly. Essential.
Somehow it seems that we've gotten the wrong idea about vulnerability. When and why did we decide that being with our truth in this capacity, meant that we were stepping away from our power? Societal conditioning has us all duped. Stuck under the crippling belief that vulnerability is shameful or makes us unworthy. Raise your hand if you've ever stopped yourself from sharing what was real, for fear of what would be decided about you upon its receipt? Yeah, me too.
Fortunately, I've taken my head out of the sand. Time and time again I've been transformed by way of this practice of daring greatly. I have seen it expose the most potent strengths in my friends, my family, my teams, and my own chersihed mentors. Being with the truth, in all of its naked splendor, doesn't rob me of my strength - quite the contrary. It allows me to stand proudly and firmly in it, because I am greeting the world as my most authentic self.
It means that I am in the work of exposing both the light and the dark, as it arises. That I study both parts of myself in observation without judgement, and am willing to share what I discover, no matter how scary. What I've learned in the process is that my own vulnerability creates the conditions, even grants the permission, for others to explore theirs. The admission of my trials, alongside my triumphs, reveals my perfect humanity in all of its imperfections. It means I can hear you from a place of humility, I can see you through a lens of compassion, and I can support your light and your dark, knowing that the same exists in me without shame.
And, let's admit, it's not easy. Recently it's been brought to my attention that even when I'm in the act of sharing honestly, that there are times when my discomfort is obvious, and others can sense that I'm somehow guarding myself from being fully immersed in the raw. Wandering eyes, fidgety hands - the act of needing a buffer of some kind between this fantastic exposure and me. What's crucial to my transformation and expansion, is that I receive the feedback in gratitude, and keep that awareness close so that I can continue be in the work of being truly seen. That I keep moving closer to the fiery center that is absolute vulnerabilty.
So what does it mean for my business? Well, I wouldn't have a business without it. As a mentor and coach, my aim is that a journey through my garden allows you to walk away with trust and safety as your bounty - and without this realness, I'm certain you'd be left wanting. Because connection is only real when it's born from seeds that were planted in ferocious purity. And when they're watered by the rains that that kind of bravery showers, what's grown is a spectacular harvest indeed.
Here's to friends that expose your blind spots, to vulnerability, and to cold, windy mornings with tea.
photo by Imani Givertz