“I’m not feeling great today Rob. I’m really struggling with something quite personal and it’s really affecting my ability to do my work properly.”
“No problem Jeff, would you like to make a booking with our coach to bounce it off someone so you can work some things out and get back on track?”
What if this was a conversation that could happen in our work culture, in our office, with our colleagues and it would be 100% acceptable? What if courage to speak up about what’s really going on could be rewarded, acknowledged and even encouraged? What if people could be vulnerable and it was met with empathy and compassion and there was a resource to help, available when needed? What if we treated people as the whole person they are, not just for their value for productivity in the workplace, but including the human struggles they may be experiencing at any given moment? How do you think that would impact their overall output and productivity?
Some people may read this and say, but if I’m vulnerable and let them see me struggling then they won’t respect me, they’ll think I’m soft, they’ll question my ability to do my job, the other men will call me a ********, vulnerability is for wimps, my boss will think there’s something wrong with me………the list goes on.
What about as an independent business owner, what if you could share your personal story and it was met with respect and acknowledgement? What if instead of chasing away business, it brought more business towards you? What if your courage to show up authentically was applauded instead of criticized or judged?
What would be possible then?
I’ll tell you what, raw courage and vulnerability is contagious. It’s empowering. It’s awe inspiring. It evokes emotion. And in the presence of it, we connect to our own story and feel hope and possibility.
It was from hearing courageous and brave stories of others that gave me hope that I could get out of the situation I was in. By hearing how others overcame their challenges, it paved a way for me to overcome my own. And how I felt toward these people who had opened their hurt and their heart was unwavering respect.
In my darkest moment, feeling helplessly suffocated and bound inside my abusive marriage, I heard a story of a woman who summoned up the courage to leave her own marriage. It was through hearing her story, her shame, her vulnerability and finding a way to be brave where I no longer felt alone in my struggle. Someone else was experiencing this too. It wasn’t just me. Someone else had the same thoughts and felt the same way.
In that moment, I felt hope and encouragement that there was a way out. Someone had done it before so it must be possible.
And now, almost three years free from my marriage, I have begun to share my own story. I am on the other side of it now, feeling empowered, strong and truly focused on what I bring to others.
I share not for sympathy or pity, nor for attention. I share because I know the enormous power of courage and vulnerability. And the response I’ve received has proven that to me. People have come forward with such a generous and heartwarming reaction. And others have come forward to share their own story of overcoming, thanking me for inspiring them and paving the way.
A friend reminded me the other day, ‘Dagmar, don’t hide behind someone else’s message. It’s the story of courage and overcoming that brings the power to your messages and those who are listening. Share with us more of that.’
So back to courage in the workplace, what if it was rewarded and given the respect and space it truly deserves? Imagine what possibilities open up for our co-workers and for our employees when they have a chance to be authentic, to reach out for help if they need it and to tell the truth. Just imagine how they’d be able to move through their struggles easier and faster, while also developing resiliency and grit. And then imagine, after feeling acknowledged and supported, how much more invested and motivated they would be in the work and in your organization? Imagine the creativity and productivity that would follow?
Would it be worth it?
I think so.
So next time you notice that someone at work is struggling a bit, ask if they’re ok. Maybe even offer a resource they could turn to. Start a shift. Be the change you want to see in the world.