Easing into Vulnerable


Being raw. Sharing your truth.
Connecting through your story.

Sounds fantastic, right?
And maybe a little terrifying?

I’m all about being open in storytelling. On the vulnerability scale, I’d give myself a good, solid 5. Honest, but pretty tidy and controlled.

On a retreat last week (with the inspiring Therese Skelly), we worked on visibility and what blocked us. Our task was to tell our raw story. The one we don’t want people to know. The one that is likely preventing us from really being seen because we are working so hard not to tell it.

I shared something I’ve only told a couple of friends and my husband, and managed to get through it in a weepy puddle. It felt good. Then I watched each of the others stand and tell her story. They were so beautiful. Unburdened from the old weight of not telling that story. So clear. So alive. So energized.

The next morning I woke up with what may have been the worst migraine of my life.

A mighty clamp-down after that spacious opening, perhaps? Made total sense to me.

As I lay there for many hours waiting for it to lessen, I felt for the clients I’ve encouraged to tell their most honest stories. It’s so important to do but it can be so damn hard.

How do we navigate this landscape of vulnerability?

Here’s what I came up with:

Vulnerability’s the thing, but it’s a delicate dance. While we are hard-wired to be tender and vulnerable—and to react compassionately when others are being this way, we’re also pretty hard-wired to protect ourselves at any cost.

Showing up truthfully is a good thing in this brave, new Brene Brown world we live in, but most of us didn’t grow up drawing attention to our flaws or insecurities. In fact, we worked over-time to appear like we had none of these:

Jugular. Achilles heel. Soft belly.

They were as well hidden as private parts in my early working days.

Years ago, I stumbled as I was walking past the Executive Director’s office where I worked. Actually, I face-planted on the carpet, throwing file folders and coffee everywhere. He made sure I was OK and that was that. Later that day, he was coming up the stairs as I was going down and I made some kind of half-ashamed/half-funny crack that he should watch out in case I tripped again.

He called me into my office and told me that the key to success was NEVER to draw attention to my errors, and NEVER to give someone the upper hand by admitting I’d made a mistake. Whew. Contrast that to my way, which had always been to bond with others by making self-deprecating comments that didn’t begin to cover up my sense of shame. Not exactly a recipe for wild career success—but a vague attempt at some level of vulnerability.

I was confused, yet I knew there had to be a way to tell the truth without putting myself down.

I thank God the days of shoulder pads and cover-your-ass business strategies are behind me. But that doesn’t mean this more-open world is super easy to figure out. I got a migraine after revealing my truth to just five people, after all.

I believe the world is a safe and kind place–much kinder and safer than I thought it to be 20 years ago. And I am all about sharing the truth as a  compelling and powerful way to connect. That doesn’t mean leaping into the marketplace showing only your soft belly, however.

Here are a few suggestions for easing into vulnerability:

  • Get very intimate with your story. Tell it “raw,” then tell it with the lesson learned or insight received.
  • Work through your emotions to get to the core and truth of the stories you share and why you share them.
  • Trust that vulnerability doesn’t mean you need to share every story  from every stage.
  • Look at the story through the lens of your ideal client and find the thread that reveals the unique essence of you and what you provide them.

The Golden Thread session is a great way to explore
the raw version of your story so you can begin to craft it
into a powerful signature speech or website copy.


 “Wow, there is magic around you! This is super, super awesome. While reading [my Golden Thread] I experienced the curious combination of deep relief, open weeping, and laughter.  That is exactly it!”

—Dr. Heather Clark,

Click here to learn more.