The vulnerability Brené Brown preaches has nothing to do with its meaning and its meaning has nothing to do with power or courage. It’s something else she talks about.
I generally like stuff by Brené Brown, but her ‘vulnerability’ branding does not make justice to what she’s trying to say or to figure out eventually.
There’s probably a tone of data behind choosing the word ‘vulnerability’ as part of branding and marketing campaign. It shows how a majority of us feels and how our lives are, so the masses can relate to that. And vulnerable people need to feel powerful and empowered, right?
On another note, we don’t need research to see how people get weaker and weaker, more depressed, poorer, on short more vulnerable in the face of the new world’s challenges and transformations. We have statistics for that and our own lives. It’s natural in a way, as we had no transition or adapting-to-change time from one world to another (analog to digital, digital to technological, local-national-regional-global). Our biggest personal challenge is to find the answers to the question „How the hell can we adapt to change instantly? How to be more resilient? And how to craft our salvation and be well no matter how life is?”.
However, using ‘vulnerability’ and ‘power’ in the same phrase is misleading, or confusing at its best. Vulnerability and power are antonyms. But vulnerable people want to feel powerful and need empowering. So, it’s good marketing and marketing does not give a shit if headlines, loglines, taglines and titles make any sense, as long as the thing sells. Unfortunately, abusing marketing this way by twisting words and interpreting interpretations, it’s how we ended up being a huge population of confused individuals and of educated folks living lousy lives and acting stupid.
So many leaders fail to realize that without vulnerability there is no creativity or innovation. Why? Because there is nothing more uncertain than the creative process, and there is absolutely no innovation without failure. Show me a culture in which vulnerability is framed as weakness and I’ll show you a culture struggling to come up with fresh ideas and new perspectives. (Brene Brown)
It’s not the culture that frames vulnerability as weakness, it’s the dictionary.
„Someone who is vulnerable is weak and without protection, with the result that they are easily hurt physically or emotionally. Something that is vulnerable can be easily harmed or affected by something bad. Open to criticism or attack.”
Now, if we wanna change or empower the meaning of vulnerability, we should start rewriting the dictionaries or simply find another word, if we are talking about being open in smart ways.
Because we are not living in heaven, bubbles or some utopian world where dangers and very bad things do not happen/exist and where people are honorable and ethical folks, operating with vulnerability as strategy is simply an act of imprudence, especially in the leadership zone where organizations and political parties fight for supremacy and market shares, for power.
Loads of fresh ideas and innovation happened in the last 10 years through crowdsourcing by opening the innovation process (to some degree), a thing that, indeed, has its own share of vulnerability, the reason crowdsourcing never boomed and fulfilled its initial purpose „to change the world together for the better”. However, it addressed some critical problems and it has its own share of praise. But at the grassroots realities, nobody really cares about changing the world, so crowdsourcing ended up as just a way to squeeze brains at cheap price (to make more profit, of course). It’s completely visionless and missionless. This is also the reason, people who want to solve the problems exposed in open innovation platforms need to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and a contract before seeing the exposed vulnerability of solution seekers. You can’t talk about it and in case you wanna put your solutions out there to showcase your portfolio and thinking capabilities, you need to be very careful on how you redesign and recraft them.
In the beginning it was the word.
I don’t think leaders and individuals who operate with a leadership mindset in their lives will ever embrace vulnerability as a way of being. At their best, some may start opening themselves in smarter ways with the intention of making wider audiences to better connect with them emotionally, not for them to start being more empathetic.
Brene’s research revelations will only help leaders and sales people to win more audiences and sell better, if they learn how to better connect emotionally with their customers, only for such purpose they might start thinking about learning ‘the power of vulnerability’. It’s the same reason why organizations invest tones of money in ‘humanizing technology’. Operating with ‘trained & well controlled’ vulnerability as a mindset with any other intention than to sell more of your stuff is simply a mistake.
Being open in smart ways, operating with your core identity and authenticity, being aware and taking full responsibility for the risks, challenges, crisis and hardships that always rise from this courageous approach of life, it’s something completely different than vulnerability. And it seems to me this is where she’s pointing the finger. I’m not sure, though, how many people manage to avoid the confusion and absorb in their systems her preaching at its and their full potential.
A more and more vulnerable population only leads to powerless competition, resistance and opposition.
…and in an era where ruthless corporatism and modern communism continuously weaken the only thing that always constituted a real danger, our identity, everything that holds power to deepen people more in confusion (on top of fake news &) and make them believe they’re ok if they allow themselves to be vulnerable only fuels their mission and enables their success in everything related with ruthless business, banking and politics.