Be Vulnerable In Order To Be Great

“Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown
“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown

By Dawn Kaiser
The Village Business Institute 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Those words resonated with me this past Sunday as I watched Oprah Winfrey interview author Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly” (Editor’s note: This piece was posted May 20, 2013). I have been inspired and encouraged by many of the Super Soul Sunday episodes, but this one was different. It struck a chord deep inside of me and really made me reflect on how I am living.

In the past I would have identified vulnerability as a weakness. It was the Achilles heel you didn’t want to reveal. However, I have noticed over the past few a paradigm shift is taking place. Influential and inspiring leaders are starting to talk about vulnerability as a path to greatness—one that takes real strength and courage.

Think about two coworkers who are unable to get along. Most of the time, the source of the conflict goes back to a situation where one person’s actions led to another person feeling disrespected or hurt. Instead of being vulnerable and open about how they feel, they choose to respond in defensively and aggressively, which sets the cycle of chaos in motion. If one of them is courageous enough to let his/her guard down and express the hurt, the other may respond to the vulnerability with openness—which likely will lead to a dissolving of the tension and conflict.

Vulnerability is not only about expressing our feelings. It is also about taking chances or risks. I admire people who are willing to put their work and ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation. I am inspired by those who dare to dream big and don’t let the thought of failure hold them back. Those are intense forms of vulnerability. They are people who I consider to be living the title of Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly.” It is interesting that the title for Brown’s book comes from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave in 1910. I will quote the whole section since it is so lovely:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….”

Daring greatly is about having the courage to be vulnerable. It is not about waiting to do something once you have no fear, but moving forward and striving for greatness in the midst of your fear.

This year I am going to challenge myself to take it to the next level and be vulnerable in order to be great. I am not really sure what that looks like or where it will lead, but I am willing to go for it. I am willing to be courageous and walk the path of vulnerability and openness. It won’t be as much fun, though, without you joining me. So let’s do it together. Let’s have a year of daring greatly and living wholeheartedly!

Dawn Kaiser, The Village Business Institute

About the Blogger
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion to energize, encourage, and equip individuals to live whole heartedly. She is a motivational speaker, writer, blogger, teacher, leader, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. Dawn draws on more than twelve years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field and has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a Master of Education. She is also a certified HR Professional. Dawn specializes in communication, leadership, positivity, high performance teams, and personal development. Dawn also enjoys unleashing hope in her community and around the world through her speaking, writing, and volunteer opportunities.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more information, visit