How to be Vulnerable Without Being Weak

by Joe Fontenot

How to be Vulnerable Without Being Weak

This is the problem.

Vulnerable–by definition–means inadequate, weak.

Brené Brown tells us that vulnerability is key to quality relationships (which are at the heart of good business).

And if you’ve been to counseling (me) you understand this, too.

But, then, how do we show ourselves strong (and competent) to our clients if we’re supposed to also be vulnerable? Should we, in effect, show our customers how weak (vulnerable) we are?

Doesn’t exactly seem like the best sales pitch.

So what do we do?

They answer is in how we’re vulnerable.

If you’ve been reading my articles for any time, you’ll know that I’m one of StoryBrand’s certified Guides. StoryBrand centers around the perspective shift that you are guide, not the hero, to your customer.

And, as it turns out, this concept is the key to being vulnerable in business.

The guide in the story doesn’t have a character arc. Think Gandolf or Dumbledore. They have their quirks, but the story is not about them overcoming challenges, it’s about the hero–Frodo or Harry–overcoming their challenges. The guide, in the story, is a solid figure the hero leans on.

One of the attributes of a good guides is that she’s been there before. She’s already experienced what the hero is struggling with now, and so she is qualified to guide the hero onward.

When we tell our customer a story–their story–the one about their success–we are positioning ourselves as the guide. And part of doing that requires us to have credibility, or, vulnerability.

But it’s a special kind of vulnerability. For it to work, we absolutely must show confidence in the moment.

“I’ve been where you are, I know what your struggle is like, and I, too, almost didn’t make it. But I did, and let me help you. Here’s how…”

In business, vulnerability is about you relating to your client’s current struggle through your own past struggle.

If you get that mixed up, you won’t come across as the confident guide your customer needs to help them on their journey. And if you leave it out entirely, you’ll be seen as someone who just doesn’t understand.

Vulnerability, when understood, is a powerful tool.

If you’d like to see the kind of results your business (or personal brand) can find by switching to the StoryBrand framework, you can check out Don Miller’s new book about it (on Amazon here).

And if you’re ready to take the next step and apply the StoryBrand framework to your business, contact me here. We can talk about how that would look for your business.