After the annual Conscious Capitalism Conference here in Chicago last year (2015), I wrote “Vulnerability is Sexy,” about the work of Corey Blake and his team of Round Table artists. They skillfully rendered–in chalk on a Vulnerability Wall–our hearts, highlighting the core of what makes Conscious Capitalism conscious: our collective vulnerability to life. Uncertainty, risk, emotional openness and heart are key aspects of vulnerability.
In fact, at this year’s April event, also held here in Chicago, Corey and his Roundtable team were back, this time with a Vulnerability Cube created from the following questions:
- “What aspect of your character or personality are you proudest of? (Go ahead, brag on yourself; this is anonymous.)” These responses made up the outside of the cube.
- The second question was “What do you fear sharing with the world, or that the world will find out about you? (Lean into discomfort! This is anonymous.).” These responses made up the inside of the cube.
What’s all this focus on Vulnerability about?
Might seem a funny thing to consider in a traditional business context, yet there’s nothing traditional about this movement, nothing staid or buttoned up at all about the participants, their companies, the work we all share in together.
As Brene Brown, vulnerability researcher and a speaker for this year’s CEO Summit in October, “ vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
Brown goes on to share a story of Gay Gaddis, the founder and owner of T3 in Austin, Texas. Gay dared to risk the uncertainty of entrepreneurship by declaring her dream of starting an ad agency, seeded by cashing in a $16K IRA. She’s since successfully built her business over the past twenty years from a handful of regional accounts into the nation’s largest women owned advertising agency. Regarding vulnerability Gaddis said, “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.”
The key to consciousness is self-awareness; self-awareness by definition surfaces our vulnerabilities. This must-have for all conscious leaders, our intentional commitment to cultivate self-awareness involves not only becoming aware of our vulnerabilities, but also noting the myriad of ways in which we hide them from ourselves and others. An essential practice so as to not shut down opportunities.
This year’s Vulnerability Cube allowed participants a means to name their vulnerabilities publicly, creating a collective atmosphere of possibility in businesses and communities as we bring our humanity to the table. On the stage of business and commerce in the 21st century this couldn’t be more vital to our survival and success. Are you all in?