Know when to open up

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.

Criss Jami

I’m an introvert and I expect my daughters will be introverts as well. Hopefully their gender will make them more susceptible to open up to friends, mother and even their father. I don’t remember having bad experiences opening up to people about my problems or thoughts, but never did much of it.

Context is king. When I was promoted to be a leader I knew my context was set. That was my role. I am the leader. I didn’t have to prove my worth, somebody else validated my skills by making me the leader. However that cleared up a few blind spots for me. The problem wasn’t with everyone else but within me. I still had to prove my leadership to a few employees, but my mind was already made up. I just had to convince them. In other interactions I typically either had to work hard to convince myself AND others what my role should be or let other define my role. That has caused me to be perceived as shy and reserved.

During the last year or so, my curiosity for other people has improved. Now I actually enjoy having conversations by changing my “goal” for the dialogue from shortest possible way to a decision to more process oriented where I expect to learn something new.

I’ve started in a network group to get some inspiration and I felt so energized when I left the first couple of meetings. However I didn’t really give anything of myself besides some semi-relevant issue that I could use others view on. I’m not good at small talk and get even more self-conscious about it once it’s expected. A common session for each meeting is a current issue that we’d like some advice on. I bit the bullet and exposed a bit of an existential crisis between me, my position and the expectations of my boss. I revealed that the expectations for me was not coinciding with me as a person and the type the of leader I want to be. The consequences of not meeting expectations were explicitly a firing. I was clearly and rightfully so effected by the situation and allowed it to show. I got a few good pieces of advice, some sympathy and a few understanding nods. I left that meeting feeling uplifted and on the right path. I also feel by exposing my vulnerability I showed my dedication and trust in the group.

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