Momentum Podcast: 97
Vulnerability Creates Momentum
by Alex Charfen
Last week, I had massive, overwhelming anxiety. Here's why, I was sick. I was actually sick from before the 1st of July, until about Saturday or Sunday, so over seven days.
This is one of the most difficult, but most critical, lessons to learn as an entrepreneur. It took me forever. I got caught up in the same traps that most entrepreneurs do, fake it until you make it, never let them see you sweat.
For most of us it's near impossible to see the correlation between vulnerability and momentum.
How can something that makes us feel so exposed and precarious move us forward?
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules but only so that we can bend them, break them, and rewrite them around our own will.
We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we enter the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution and we always will be.
Vulnerability creates momentum. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn as an entrepreneur. It's one of those things that can take forever or you can start experimenting with it and learn it much faster than the rest of the world around you. The actuality is that a lot of entrepreneurs never fully learn this concept, never fully engage with this concept. Here's the challenge for us as entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurial personality types, as people who are doing our own thing, see the world a different way. The challenge is that we have always heard things like, "Never let them see you sweat," and, "Fake it until you make it," and all of this garbage that really amounts to lie and deny. Unfortunately, so much of what is taught in positive thinking or personal motivation includes some aspect of denial that stops us from admitting what's really going on.
When we are vulnerable, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, that's when we will find that we create the greatest momentum. It's just hard to connect this because feeling vulnerable is so precarious. It feels so dangerous. It feels like something that we want to get out of. In fact, we spend most of our lives trying to keep ourselves out of vulnerability, out of that feeling, out of feeling like we can get take advantage of, out of feeling like we're exposed, out of feeling like everyone's looking at us. I want you to understand something. The most vulnerable person in the room is always the entrepreneur in charge. If you intend to run a company, if you intend to grow it, if you intend to build an empire, you must make peace with being vulnerable. I didn't say uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is when we start doing things we shouldn't be doing. I said vulnerable. When we make peace with being exposed, when we make peace with people knowing more about us than we're used to, when we make peace with telling people what's really going on.
I'll share with you. This was hard for me in my life. It still is. I would not ever say that I have mastered the art of vulnerability. There's times in my life where I still don't really say what's going on. It's hard. Sometimes it happens in my marriage, sometimes it happens with my daughters and still, sometimes it happens for me in business. Afterwards, I'll think like why did that happen? It'll stop me. Because my intention is always to tell people what's really going on, to be able to get the help that I need to express what's happening for me in the moment in reality, not to have two sets of books where there's what's happening and then what I share. My intention is to be as straightforward and as an open book as possible because that's the easiest way to live your life and it's the fastest way to create momentum.
As a consultant, I was one of those people who would ask the question that nobody else would. I would ask the uncomfortable but obvious question in the room that everyone else was thinking but they wouldn't even say it out loud and I would say it. Did that make me vulnerable? Absolutely. When I was pointing out the challenges, the issues, the stuff that nobody else wanted to talk about, they didn't want to get shot as the messenger, that put in a place of vulnerability but when I did that, the more I did that in front of the right people, the more of the bigger meetings I was included in, the more responsibilities my company was given, the more we were asked to do because everybody knew I was the one who would ask the uncomfortable question.
In business, man, so many times vulnerability has changed things for me. It wasn't until I was in my mid 30s that I finally told somebody that I worked with that I had dyslexia. I had a friend who I worked with for a long time and we were driving to an appointment. It was my early 30s. We were driving to an appointment and he said, "Dude, I got this email from you yesterday and there's like three words in a sentence that I just can't figure out." He pulled it out and I remember him reading to me and based on what he said, I could remember what I was trying to tell him and I told him. He's like, "Man, you should proofread these every once in a while." I said, "Yeah. Here's the problem. I could proofread that 20 times and I see what I want to see. I have a level of dyslexia where I don't really do great at proofreading. I have a really hard time proofreading. If I've written it, I will see what I think is there, not what's really there. I could read it 20 times and it's going to look the same."
I remember thinking, man, did I just over explain that? Did I say too much? He's like, "Huh. For a guy with dyslexia, you do a lot better than my brother." That was the first time I'd ever told someone. I remember in that moment right before I said it, I had gotten a little emotional. I felt like he was insulting me a little and I was like forget it, I'm just going to say it. As I was saying it, I felt so exposed. That's why I over explained it. That's why I talk too much. I was like oh my gosh, he's going to find out I have dyslexia. He's not going to even want me working with him anymore. It was like no thing at all.
From that point forward, I just started letting people know. It didn't really matter anymore. People didn't care. They were like, "Huh. Okay." That changed how I reacted in business. I approach things now with a level of transparency that I never would have before but I get so much more out of the relationships then and so much more from the people who I work with. I let them know exactly what's going on, where I feel uncomfortable, what's not working for me, and they have an opportunity to help fix it even when it's really uncomfortable for me to share even when I'm overwhelmed, even when I'm feeling like it's going to make me feel more vulnerable, I continue to lean in. Again, I'm not perfect at this.
One of the most crucial times for vulnerability is as a parent. I now have an eight and a 10 year old daughter and Cadey and I have chosen to homeschool them and to live a radically alternative lifestyle. Our family doesn't look like most families. We don't get up and put the kids on a bus. They're with us all day. They have their rooms in the house, we have our rooms in the house. Thankfully, we have a pretty large house. We have tutors coming in and out of the house and activities for them. We have help that comes here and there are some times where you have an eight and 10 year old and things aren't working out.
As a parent, you just want to solve it and make it better but there's been times where we've had to sit down, Cadey and I with the kids, in a place of vulnerability and said, "Okay, girls. Here's what's going on." We realized that we're together a lot and we realized that we're kind of top of each other but your mom and I have noticed that there's been a lot of conflict between the two of you and we don't know what to do. We don't have any more moves. You have to tell us what we need to do." That is a place of extreme vulnerability. I can remember when we had that conversation with the girls or a variation of that conversation because believe me, it's happened more than once. I can remember the first time we had to do something like that with two kids, my face feeling hot and feeling like I didn't know what was going to happen next. I really didn't because I didn't have this figured out.
It was a lot like it was in business. The kids, I think, the first time we ever had that conversation said something about needing to go outside more and maybe they could be more active. I don't know if they made it up on the spot or they were actually thinking about it or if they were just trying to give us an answer, but we all felt a lot better when we were done and I think they understood and they heard. They know that their parents are not infallible and that we need them in the game as much as we're in the game. It's one of the hardest ways to parent when you do it transparently and let your kids know what's really going on because in the moment, it always feel precarious but then right afterwards, you wonder what you were thinking over and over and over again.
If you're an entrepreneur and you have decided you're not going to live like the rest of the world, you're not going to let somebody else decide what's going on for you, you're going to forge your own path, do your own thing, go out and change things, maybe you're an entrepreneur working on a team, maybe you're an entrepreneur working for a company, maybe you're an entrepreneur running your own business, but it doesn't matter. If you've decided you're going to do your own thing and make things happen for yourself and make a massive contribution and do things your way, then vulnerability is the only way to go.
Because the more you're willing to tell people what's really happening for you, the more you will get exactly what you need when you need it. The more you're willing to share what you really want, the more likelihood you'll actually have that show up in your life. The more you actually as exactly who you are, the less operational drag you're going to be carrying around, the more momentum you will feel, and the faster you will connect to the greater purpose you have and to all of the resources you need to get there. It just takes the first step of you being clear, being vulnerable, being transparent with the people around you, and stepping into that space where you share what's really going on so you can get the help you actually need.
Like I said earlier, I wish I was an expert or a black belt at vulnerability. I would give myself a solid middle of the road. I think I'm more vulnerable than most but I've certainly met leaders who are willing to be more vulnerable than I am and they inspire me. For anyone who's trying to create momentum, for anyone who's trying to move forward to forge a new path, to do what you and I do as entrepreneurs, this is one of those shortcuts where when we are willing to be vulnerable and tell people what's really going on for us, it's amazing how quickly what we need shows up.
Thanks for being with me today. Think of that place in your life right now where you need the most help. Think of that place in your life right now where you're feeling the most uncomfortable, where you have the most ambiguity, where things aren't going the way you want them to, and commit. Commit to telling someone who cares about you what's really going and getting some help because as entrepreneurs, we learn very little standing still and almost nothing alone. We help each other move forward. We all go forward faster together. It gives someone else the opportunity to help you where you're feeling most vulnerable, where you're feeling the most ambiguity. Let them know what's really going on and see what happens because when we do this an entrepreneurs, when we are proactively transparent, when we let people know what's really going on, when we tell people what we really want, we become the magnet for all of the things we need. Every resource, every person we need will be there.
Let me know how this works out for you. I know it's a huge bridge to cross but it all it takes is some faith in the beginning and then careful observation of what happens going forward. The more vulnerable you are, I assure you, the more momentum you will create and feel.
If you haven't yet, download my book. It's the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. If you relate to this podcast, if sometimes you think how can he know this much about my life? I want you to know how I do. I wrote the book, the Entrepreneurial Personality Type and it's about people like you and I and every person you remember in history that matters to be remembered, every person who ever did anything significant, who is just like us. The Entrepreneurial Personality Type is my manifesto about who we are, who we've been throughout history, and why we are the most important people in the world. Go to freemomentumbook.com to download a copy. Freemomentumbook.com. It's actually optimized for mobile so you can download it, read it on your phone, finish it in about 45 minutes. If you've related to these podcasts, that book may tell you more about yourself than anyone ever has.