Entrepreneurship Is The Epitome Of Vulnerability
And Why Many of Us Are Hypocrites (Myself Included )
Vulnerability is the thing I’ve been running away from ever since I was in elementary school where I was outcasted enough to believe that I had to build walls and keep people out as a defense mechanism. Vulnerability is the icky feeling of being able to get hurt. It is putting yourself out there without any armor and taking the risk of getting scrapped knees and elbows (or falling off a cliff).
Ironically, vulnerability is also the very thing I have decided to embrace (struggling to everyday) when I decided to pursue this uncomfortable thing called “entrepreneurship.”
Can you think of any other career path that holds you completely accountable for everything? The success of your venture as well as the failures are 100% on your shoulders and you don’t have the comfort of blaming upper management or employees working underneath you for your outcomes. You are judged personally for every professional decision and there is no distinguished line between work and life, the line you would have had if you had worked in a traditional job. Just the idea of this haunts me.
Can We All Stop Being Hypocrites?
Funny enough, our society applauds several entrepreneurs and champions them for their risks, vulnerabilities, and efforts in overcoming adversity. We have a soft spot in our hearts for the stories we hear of someone putting their own self on the line and being rejected by investors, by stores, sometimes even by their family, to only be able to stay afloat amongst the sea of pain.
Why do we cheer them on from a distance but cannot imagine ourselves being exposed as they are? Essentially, we want to experience their vulnerability but we don’t want to be vulnerable ourselves. We see vulnerability as courage in others, yet weakness in ourselves.
Stop this nonsense.
The moment I decided that starting my own company was the path for me, I ditched the comfy blanket and made the ultimate tradeoff deciding I was going to face my fear of being vulnerable. I was going to embrace that icky word and begin to tear down my walls (I still am, slowly but surely).
In fact, one of the most impacting TED Talks I have ever seen was Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability.” Currently, I am reading her book “Daring Greatly” which my cofounder beckoned me to read. Let me tell you, every page is like a slap on the face.
How Does Vulnerability Feel?
These are some of the answers Brown documents in her book followed by my take on how it parallels with entrepreneurship:
- “It’s where courage and fear meet” — It takes a certain person to make that first decision to get into entrepreneurship, a very courageous type of person. However, this courage can only get so far before we are faced with scary obstacles and hurdles. We need to rely on the momentum of that initial courage to get us past these times when our confidence is faulty and we are fearful.
- “Being all in” — You have your whole being dedicated to your venture as there is no more work-life balance. It is a lifestyle and therefore, you will always be all in. You embody your startup as it embodies you.
- “Infinitely terrifying and achingly necessary” — If you have an entrepreneurial soul, you will feel unsatisfied unless you’re able to create and move at the beat of your own drum. Satisfaction won’t be found unless you’re at the steering wheel, therefore it is “achingly necessary” for you to embrace this path along with its discomforts.
- “You are halfway across a tightrope, and moving forward and going back are both just as scary” — There’s a lot to lose and a lot to gain at the end of the day. Stepping out on that rope was a risk you were willing to take and turning back can become as detrimental as if you have completed it.
Overall, it becomes very clear that entrepreneurship requires being vulnerable and the sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can progress and overcome our fear of this uncomfortable, weirdly liberating, feeling.
“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.”
― Brené Brown; Daring Greatly
Tara Demren is a social entrepreneur & insight capturer who is fascinated by startup culture. Tara is also the host of Tea Time with Tara, which curates high quality content for aspiring entrepreneurs and shares life takeaways for all.