Wednesday, June 13, 2012

putting myself out there, a.k.a. "being vulnerable"

I just stumbled upon this gal's blog through a friend's blog that I visit pretty regularly (I love finding new blogs this way!). In this post, she quoted:

In the Mind of God, there is a fully created image of you at your most creative, abundant and joyful. And there is a divine blueprint by which this image would take form in your life. It is not something you can make happen, but it is something you can allow to happen, by making the softening of your heart your primary goal. This is the meaning of spiritual surrender. (Marianne Williamson)

Wow... this idea of "softening your heart" - it reminds me of the work of Brene Brown (have you seen her TED talks?). There was one talk that I listened some time ago in which she talked about the idea of vulnerability, and how "vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change". Which can then lead us to what Williamson calls our "fully created image of us at our most creative, abundant and joyful".

Pretty powerful stuff. It amazes me to see the connection between what people are saying...

What amazes me even more is the truth to their words. To reach our full potential, we have to put ourselves "out there" - something I've always been hesitant to do.

It's my secret dream (well, not-so-secret now!) to write a book one day. Well, two books actually - one education-related and one would be a book of photographs with accompanying reflections/meditations. It requires putting myself out there.

My dream of starting a small food business. Again, putting myself out there.

Taking the leap to teach yoga again. Once again... it means putting myself out there. Being vulnerable.

But as Brene Brown says, vulnerability is not a bad thing. Galileo put himself in a vulnerable position to say that the earth revolves around the sun.

I went back to the times I put myself out there, allowed myself to be vulnerable. And how it felt to be in that situation. How nerve-wracking it was, and yet, how amazingly fulfilling it was. Like presenting research at a professional conference. It was scary - standing up in a room full of people, all of whom were expecting new knowledge.

I remember other times I've put myself out there in the past. It's funny how I much more of a risk-taker I was when I was younger. When I was in college, I started a small food business with my brother's then-girlfriend (now his wife). We both loved to bake. And she was good at selling. We both came up with an idea, and one Christmas started selling pastries. It was such a great experience - to have people call us and place their orders, baking long into the night, and even making our own boxes (thanks to my brother, who was then an architecture student and made us a template for our boxes!). It was by no means a large-scale venture - we probably did it for at least 2 Christmases - but the point is, we put ourselves out there. We took the risk. More importantly, it taught us lessons. And - we had a blast!

Then again... I realize, I put myself out there all the time. Like on this blog. Even all the writing I do for my academic work... and it's no wonder I get so nervous every time I compose the email to my advisors with my most recent draft attached. I feel vulnerable, because I put my mind, heart, and soul into the work, for someone else to see and judge. I feel vulnerable - there I am, staring at my computer screen, second-guessing myself and then finally taking a deep breath before I hit "send."

It is in that deep breath that I soften my heart, affirm that I've done the work, then let myself be vulnerable... and in the process let myself grow - even if it involves making mistakes or failing.

Because it is in not being vulnerable that I keep myself from being open to opportunity and challenge. And without that, how would I achieve innovation, creativity, and change?

Last year I took the lead in writing a federal grant application to develop and implement a 5-year project. It was a long shot, for sure. Here I am, an inexperienced researcher, writing an application (with the support of my advisor) for which only 9 awards were available nationally. For days and days and days I worked nonstop to put together ~250 pages of work. I put myself fully into the task, and I put myself out there. Six months later, we found out that it didn't get funded (a nice way of saying we got rejected!). But you know what? I was proud of the work, regardless. Because our goal was to innovate and create. We got 2 out of 3 really good reviews, but the 3rd review pulled our score down... but all the reviewers had some great constructive feedback to offer.

And so we are resubmitting again this year, with the feedback in mind to make a better, stronger application. We are putting ourselves out there another time -  in the hopes of innovating, creating, and changing.

How have you put yourselves out there?


PS: Watch Dr. Brown's talk here:

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