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I recently gave a talk to a room that was 80% full of male financial advisers. I chose to focus my talk on how the way we “show up” is our choice and why as high achieving leaders it is our duty, not a luxury, to be real and vulnerable. This is the breeding ground for loyalty, trust, respect and unwavering support. Plus, it’s a no-fail way to weed out the bullshitters. We can not ask others to be vulnerable while we just sit back as the “Mighty Know-All.” We show empathy by practicing vulnerability ourselves.
There were moments that you could’ve heard a pin drop. I felt equally unnerved and invigorated. Did I miss the mark on my audience? Dammit. Am I resonating as a disruptor? Crossing fingers.
The truth is, our world does not celebrate being vulnerable, and that needs to change. Anyone who begs to differ, take a look around. How’s that going for us? We are at a self-righteous tipping point as a society, and something’s gotta give.
Yes, it’s more acceptable for women to be vulnerable, but still, our culture doesn’t embrace this act as a significant asset. And god forbid a guy shows vulnerability. To defend our feelings of discomfort, we fly to our favorite derogatory name to call him out instead of letting him in. “Pansy.” “Pussy.” “Faggot.” C’mon. We’re better than that.
This learned defense needs to stop, for the sake of who we are as a culture and where we are going as a country. We are diverse and free-thinkers who make up this world. We do not need to agree with everything. What we do need, is to join forces to make listening to who we are instead of who we think we need to be as routine as showering. (Yes, even if you don’t shower every day. Guilty as charged.)
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
– e.e. cummings
Where to start?
How about with Lewis Howes’ new book, The Mask of Masculinity?
I do not know Lewis and make zero profit off of promoting this book. This is not a recommendation – as I am awaiting my copy in the mail.* I have listened to Lewis Howe’s The School of Greatness podcast for some time now. I like him. He’s real. He’s intelligent. He’s curious. Plus, he interviews the top thought leaders and influencers on a regular basis – while successfully holding his own and being one himself. This makes his credibility solid to me.
So, think of it as an offering. For less than sixteen bucks (or ten if you go Kindle) you can choose to take a double leap of faith. First, have faith that you garner some insight that will allow you to be more human and whole. Second, have faith that this will only strengthen your relationship with the people who love you most (no matter the gender).
As a wife, mom, and daughter of men who practice vulnerability regularly and exude an unabashed strength in sensitivity daily, this request is fully-loaded. We need more men like this. Desperately. I know, I know, desperation doesn’t look good on anyone. So, think of this as an ugly cyber cry on behalf of a collective desperate measure.
It’s up to us.
Yes, we can change the world together by choosing to be true to who we are no matter what society, social media, or our family dictates.
Choose love, man. We are at the breaking point of fear. Choose love.
* Since publishing this post I have fully dove into the book and can confidently stand by my words even more. Lewis shines an empathetic light on this crucial conversation, making it feel possible to actually start one with the people we love. He delivers raw and thoroughly researched insight in the most humble and compassionate way possible.
P.s. – If you want a movie that really nails how our culture distorts and labels our “ideal” in romantic relationships, stream Joseph Gordon Levitt’s, Don Jon.
(Who’s the Boss? lovers rejoice. Tony Danza co-stars.)