The Self-asessed Cost of Vulnerability

In my last post I illustrate being zoomed into a fractal (See the video for the visual). I mention wanting to stay ahead of the expectation so I can answer questions and have well-researched recommendations at the drop of a hat.

A question I’ve been asking myself of late is ‘What’s motivating this behavior?’ For me, it makes me feel less worthy when I say ‘I Don’t Know.’ It’s like admitting I didn’t care enough to do the work. I try to address that vulnerability by doing my homework for things I’m predicting will be someone else’s next priority. Another question I see as important is ‘What do others do to compensate for their vulnerabilities?’ And, ‘What are others struggling with?’

I’ve seen people draw strength to address their vulnerabilities from the following prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;”

The beginning of that prayer brings with it some assumptions. There are things we define as unchangeable (perhaps a vulnerability ‘I’m never going to be…’ or something we’re scared to do based on predicted outcomes or reactions). And, that definition could be completely accurate. But, it could also be completely wrong.

It also indicates there are things we define as changeable. And, with acceptance of the former and courage for latter we achieve positive outcomes.

This works. Well. But, what if we could make it work better? What influence does the interplay between the things I say are unchangeable (I’m calling those vulnerabilities), and, the things I can change (I’m calling those contexts)? And, what if the internalization of ‘I’ was replaced with the inclusive idea of ‘us’?

I think there’s more to be explored. Maybe something like:

“God grant us the serenity
to perceive our vulnerabilities;
and courage to change our contexts;”

Now that I’ve changed what is an amazing prayer, I want to illustrate why that change could be so vitally important.

For me, the identification of a vulnerability is easy. I don’t like to feel or appear unprepared, ignorant, or negligent. Said differently, I value being able to serve as a resource for everybody in my surroundings, and, to do that, I completely over-prepare, over-google, and will work 25 hour days to make sure I’m good to go. So if it comes to it I have enough information, experience, or combination of both to help with the project or task at hand. And yay, no vulnerability, no shame (also no life, no free-time, no unfocused thought. And, it’s super easy to maintain that level of thinking).

We don’t come with the name tag ‘hello my vulnerabilities are:’ So, sometimes opportunities are missed, miscommunication occurs, and potential is never discovered; merely because vulnerabilities were not seen, or the context wasn’t safe enough to risk it.


Perspective Shift

Using the illustrations above we can see how perspective can change perception. If we were auditioning models to recreate the first picture we may get wonderful models. But, we may not get those who are scared of water. If we change the perspective we can see the possibility exists to attract a completely different set of models. Facebook epiphany aside, all that happened was a change of perspective. While a valuable tool it still doesn’t address the context,there is still a tree in both pictures.

Lets move on to a different situation, one of which you may not be aware. I’m dyslexic (no excuses there) and reading aloud is something I hate to do. I start to read and I’m slower than I want to be, I skip words and try to keep going by patching the syntax. Then I feel shame when it’s obvious I messed up.

If this was a known trait in a workgroup the context could change to prevent that vulnerability from ever causing shame. Or at least the group would have a better context and possibly manipulate the context so I didn’t have to read. Or, I could be given bullet points and at my discretion increase the amount I read if I wanted to be courageous. But, if the vulnerability is hidden there is no chance for the context to compensate. I’d just hear the whisper  shame  ‘oh geesh, Nick’s up.’

Writing is another thing I don’t enjoy (as I write a blog, hello irony). It doesn’t have anything to do with my command of the language or a lack of passion for presenting my ideas. But, in a corporate context I often mute myself for fear of looking foolish if I misspell, or try to say too much in a small space. Or, the complete opposite, I’ll write short novels to compensate for perceived potential shortcomings. Those emails often are convoluted as I try to incorporate all the research I’ve done and, ‘briefly’ outline the eighty levels of fractal detail I have.

All that to say, everybody has vulnerabilities and is concerned with shame. My thinking is we can manipulate context to create a perception where the value of vulnerabilities become diminished, or manageable. So they could, if someone wanted to, be approached, explored, and possibly overcome.

Being slightly narcissistic I’ll keep using myself as an example. A valuable tool for me, as my blogging endeavor begins, is the speech tool built right into my computer’s operating system. I can select text and my computer will read it to me as I follow. It’s allowed me to clarify my ideas as I can see and hear when they are getting muddled. It’s helped me with my use of the friendly, (and oddly important) comma. And, it’s allowing me to feel confident in putting my ideas out there for the world to see. Now if there were points for how often I’ve clicked on the little red squiggle I would win.

What I’m hoping to incorporate in my life are elements that allow me to maintain a context in which being vulnerable is okay, and where people are able to contribute uninhibited by potential risk of shame. I also want to foster imbedded support when it’s needed. I realize that the “support process” could be, in and of itself fraught with shame. But if the “support process” was less systematic and more imbedded and personalized I think we would see some amazing outcomes from some unlikely sources.

An example of the less systematic support is again, my computer reading to me. I don’t have to show this writing to anybody to be able to hear it. Nobody needs to know I forgot the word “I’m” at the beginning of the last paragraph. I caught it all by myself. And now you’ll never know it wasn’t there. Oh wait. Hold the phone. Dang, let the shaming begin.



mlteacher | March 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm
i found this blog by mere chance and came here to say, by your words i feel like you may have a homosexuality demon in you.

let me pray for you
heavenly father i pray that what over this man is going through, you take it away and that the demons he is facing you take out of him.

i pray that his lust ceases, in your lovely name Amen.

ontheflyguy [my old handle] | August 22, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Aloha mlteacher,

Apologies for not seeing your comment before now. I haven’t been as active on my blog as I would like.

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read my words. This post was not short.

Secondly, I’m curious what about this post contributed to your feeling of a ‘homosexual demon’ in me. In writing this post I was trying to articulate how vulnerability functions in my life in hopes that an awareness could inspire others.

Lastly, while anonymous, I value your intent to contribute positively to my life with prayer. Your desire and time are appreciated.




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