“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” – Brené Brown
When I think of Light, I first think of vulnerability. And when I think of vulnerability, I think of Lindsey.
Lindsey and I met in a virtual Numerology class. We were both in the class for the same reason – to understand ourselves better. Every class, we’d see the other one making similar faces to our own – and they were so familiar that we knew we had to be friends. She lived in Portland, I lived in DC. Over the next two years, we became voicemail buddies. We’d leave 3-minute voicemails for each other and go deep. She shared about her divorce, I shared about my tough relationship. We were both entrepreneurs – struggling with similar issues. We felt like sisters.
When we finally met each other in the flesh, we were deep into each others lives. We kept staring at each other with the “I know you” looks. Like we had been sisters in another lifetime. And yet, I know one thing about Lindsey – she’s willing to be vulnerable with anyone who wants it. Some might say it comes from her frequent attendance at Al-Anon meetings (the meetings for those with alcoholic loved ones) where she shares and listens. Or her desire to be a better human to her children, team, and friends by going to a therapist – sharing with others that it’s healthy to talk to someone about your feelings. Others may say it’s just who she is. No matter what, Lindsey is one of those people who will go deep with you – quickly. And she has no fear around it.
When Lindsey and I get busy with life and don’t get a chance to talk for awhile, we end up picking up conversation as quickly as if we talk every day. We go deep – FAST. We share our thoughts, give advice, and never judge. We’re fully vulnerable with each other because it’s who we are as humans. There are no boundaries – other than always coming from a place of love. Even when it’s hard.
Years ago, Lindsey realized she was holding a lot of anger and had been carrying it around with her infecting everything in her life. So, her therapist told her to get a metal folding chair, write her anger on it, and carry it with her for 40 days. She wanted Lindsey to see what her anger looked like physically.
Lindsey left her therapist’s office with an angry laughter telling herself that it was the dumbest idea she’d ever heard. She sat in her car for a moment realizing that everything her therapist said was true – even in how she was reacting. So, she told herself that she’d go to the thrift store on her drive home and IF there was a folding chair, she’d get it. A sweet little light blue folding chair was poised at the back of the store. She gave her money and left with it.
When she got home, she wrote ANGER & RAGE in big black markers all over a light blue chair. And although she had just started her own business, she decided to be REALLY vulnerable and take that chair to all of her meetings. She took it to big corporations for client meetings, to her office, to coffee with friends – it even stood next to her bed so she could see it when she woke up. She carried her anger with her physically – and watched how it banged into things, got in the way, and even became hard for others to avoid.
Lindsey ended up in the newspaper with her story and a local pastor asked her to come share her story with teens at his church. She took that chair and told her story – and brought paper copies of a blue folding chair for the teens. She asked them to write down something that got in their way, something they took everywhere with them – also something they wanted to release. At the end of the conversation with them, they helped her lay her chair on the altar of that church and let it go.
Lindsey told that story and many others on stage at SPEAK With Confidence. She gave everyone in the audience a different view of vulnerability. I still hear to this day from those in attendance that they’ve shared Lindsey’s story with others. Her story has ripple effects she will never see. Her story filled the room with Light – driving out the darkness so others could see that they needed to start looking at themselves more carefully.
By having the courage to share her story, Lindsey shared her Light with others. She gave others permission to see their own faults as works-in-progress. She gave them permission to do something about it.
Lindsey could have told a cleaner version of her story – she could have left out details, been less vulnerable, and given you a picture of her that could almost be untouchable. She could have also told you that her life is perfect now and she has it all figured out. Except that she will clearly tell you that she’s moved on to the next thing she’s working on – because she’s human.
The beauty of our lives is in the mess.
A lot of times we clean up our lives and our stories the same way we clean our houses for dinner guests. We tuck all the messy parts away so they don’t judge us. We hide all the things we don’t want them to see. Except that by cleaning up the stories of our lives, we also clean out the vulnerability.
Courage is hard work. Vulnerability is scary. AND it’s the most incredible tool for connection and growth.
So, I challenge you: If you have a story to tell that could help others, don’t censor it. Don’t clean it up. Don’t keep it to yourself. SHARE IT. Give the gory details. Be courageous and full of light – and know that you are right where you’re supposed to be.
WRITE YOUR STORY: Jump into this FREE training about how to write a stage-worthy talk and get started mapping out your story. You don’t have to become a speaker to share your story – go to: stageworthytalk.com