I have been reading up on competence and vulnerability lately. I am currently part of the Brene Brown CourageWork course – Living Brave. In this course, we are reading Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, while working through weekly sessions on applying the learning to be brave and dare to be our most authentic selves. Those of you who know me personally, and also have been reading my posts over the years, can see that I have no problem sharing what I am going through. If it can help someone overcome something they are going through, I will gladly share my story. One topic I have not written about is one of my vulnerable areas, I call it curse of the competent. This has surrounded me since I was young, during my blossoming career and even now as an Influencer/Entrepreneur.
Before I share some vulnerable thoughts with you, let me explain the curse. Curse of the Competent was a label I received as I was coming up in my career, and building my resume. I was proud of being asked by senior leadership to fulfill their demands. I would say Yes to challenges, and overburden myself because I believed it meant advancement. In most cases it did, but it also meant a demise in my personal care and well being. It also meant that people around me started to assume I could handle it all and was fine. I was not fine. Yes, I was capable, and yes, I got the job done. But I WAS NOT FINE! And it was all my fault. I believed that is what I should be doing, and finally realized that my boundaries matter. That my self care is important. That asking for help IS NOT a weakness. The curse is in the assumption that because you are capable, you should do it, and because you have done it, you will be asked again, and again, and again…without hesitation from others.
This was all learned at a very young age. It was a conformed behavior from the role I played in my family. Making money was my way of earning freedom to live my way, what I didn’t realize was how those behaviors impacted how I approach my career. I quickly learned that being competent, without clear boundaries, can be a curse. I now love the word, NO! and train people on how to use it with grace, when it comes to creating healthy boundaries.
Are you cursed?
“It’s the curse of the competent!” If anyone ever says this to you, or you think it about yourself, it is a red flag to look at your communication around your boundaries. Other ways to identify it: When you are being asked to step in, and there are other people on your team that are totally capable, but the person trusts only you. When you are working extended hours and everyone else gets to go home and have a life. When you realize you have no personal life, your daily activities are not fulfilling, and your life is your job. – You are cursed, and your gifts are being taken advantage of.
In my early 20’s, I quickly learned the boundary language I had to use to continue to excel, leverage my team and colleagues skills and in turn articulate what I would/could do while taking care of myself through each transaction. I learned how to say No, and conduct trade off discussions like: “Sure, I could do that, however, it would either need to wait until X date, or this other project will have to drop in order for me to focus on that.” Statements like this allowed me to state the value of my time, and ensure I was not over extending myself. I had to make the boundaries of what I was capable of known, in order for others to work with it. I trained my team to do the same.
As I become a manager at 24, leveraging my team was a great lesson for me. Helping my team step up into what I was tasked with allowed me to grow in my roles, lead by example, and take on bigger challenges. Trust was the underlying factor in delegation and faith that my team would call upon me if they needed help, but had the skills to get it done regardless. The curse was slowly lifted, as I grew within my career and helped me create a strategy to be a better leader, but also start to focus on personal care.
A peek inside my head:
I generally lead with reassurance, a way to convince myself I am ok: I am a highly capable, multifaceted woman who thrives in helping others. I am capable. I am a giver. I care a lot. I show up as best as I can in ever moment. I am loved, cared for, and appreciated. I am successful, and can overcome most challenges present. I am grateful for all that I have, and am excited about whats to come.
Then the deceptive mind shows up: What the heck am I trying to do? Who am I to give advice to others? I am not good enough. Why would they come to me? I am useless. I got nothing done today. What’s the point? Why should I try? This is such a waste of time, no one is interested in what I have to offer. (downward shame spiral)
Questioning myself on how to be vulnerable: How do I share when I am not fine? When I am questioning everything? When I am a bit lost in what I am meant to do next? How do I let my friends and family know I am in need without seeming weak, or even those that I influence, so they don’t lose faith in the work we are doing together. How do I let go of my posturing that I have it all together, and show my areas of weakness without being judged?
Action that follows: I surrender. I allow myself to feel the doubt, and I articulate it. Sometimes it is to myself through writing, and sometimes it is reaching out to others. But the biggest step is admitting I am not well, and need help, a shake up, a shift in my mindset.
- Be True to what I am feeling: I remind myself I am human. I don’t know it all. I am not FINE sometimes. And I have to ask for help, attention, and care when I need it. This is not easy for me at times and am grateful I have a loving husband I can be myself around, and simply share: I feel useless today. Just letting it out helps me breathe through it and figure out what is really going on, what is bothering me, and now I give myself grace to sit in it, until it resolves.
- Reach out to friends: When it comes to my close friends, I know some of my behavior of moving around a lot and focusing on the positive all the time (which does serve me and lifts my spirits), builds an assumption that I am fine. And it creates some distance, like “I don’t have to check on Kareen, she is fine.” or “I would love to connect with Kareen, but she is probably so busy.” Nothing excites me more than when a great friend reaches out and just wants to shoot the sh!t with me. Now, I just text something like: “I am heading down a shame spiral and can’t get out, can you call me when you get a chance.” They always do, and it always helps!
- Get Into Action: When I get into action, it definitely helps. It gets my brain to focus on new things. Actions like a workout, drinks with friends, going to a meetup, reading a new book, all shake my mind up and get me feeling better!
The Biggest Lesson Learned:
What I am learning to do is reach out and ask for the attention I need. THIS IS HUGE! I give myself permission to be vulnerable and share when I am down. It use to be a critical way of thinking, a sign of weakness to show vulnerability, but now, you get all sides of me. I am enjoying the affirmation work with Brene Brown of what I have learned on my own, and figuring out the language I can use and it’s importance not only for my self care, but for my coaching practice, and the way I build my companies. I want the consciousness to be present in all that I do, and not feel shame around it. It is what it is, in that moment. What I take away from it, after the moment has pasted, can be life changing. Life is short, I choose to live it authentically. I am empathetic in my stance, I cherish those who are the same with me!
Posturing around your true emotions can create a foundation of quick sand. I know traditional leadership requires a bit of posturing that you have it all under control. How is that serving you and your team? How is that engaging you staff in the truth of what actually needs to happen in order to be proud of the work you are doing? How fast are you actually sinking in the quick sand? My best leadership moments where in the “I don’t know” and “I need help” space. It allowed me to leverage those that did and build cohesive collaborative teams. I now coach leaders on building strategies that create a leadership stance that is trusted, but also empowers their team. Vulnerability is a huge part of making this happen. Trust and empathy from all parties is a concrete foundation to push through all challenges, and achieve your goals.
My Challenge for you– Assessment – Are you cursed? Are you cursing others? If you are an over achiever, when you need help, do you hesitate on asking for it? Then ask yourself, how this behavior is serving you, your team, your initiatives?
What I know for sure, without this discovery work, I would not be able to serve my client base with an empathetic approach and relieve them of stress and strain that holds them back from their best self. If you would like to share your discovery work with me, I would be happy to talk through some strategies on how to breakthrough and help you get to the next level. Just know, you are not alone, and the support is here when you need it.
I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear your thoughts! Please share them with me, if you so desire.
#bevulnerable #justdoyou #empoweryourteam