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Do you have the power of vulnerability?

The Power of Vulnerability

If we are going to do great work, we must first commit to being vulnerable.

From @thedailycoach

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After serving his second term, Teddy Roosevelt standing on his promise of not running for President after four years, left office. He also left the country, heading to Africa to join the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition in east and central Africa. When the safari ended, Roosevelt traveled throughout Europe meeting dignitaries, kings and delivering speeches. Throughout his travels along with his eight years holding the highest office in the world, Roosevelt felt the world developing a sense of cynicism, a lack of engagement in meaningful work and civic duty. He felt the critics were in control, not the people, who in his opinion could make a difference. On April 23 in Sorbonne France, Roosevelt delivered his “Citizenship in the Republic” speech in front of 25,000 people that included “ministers in court dress, army and navy officers in full uniform, nine hundred students, and an audience of two thousand ticket holders,” according to the Edmund Morris biography Colonel Roosevelt. During his talk, he was interrupted several times by a thunderous applause lasting over two minutes. On that day, Roosevelt words became viral.

Roosevelt railed against cynics who looked down at men and woman who were trying to make the world a better place. “The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer,” he said. “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities—all these are marks, not ... of superiority but of weakness.”

In 1910, there was no X, talk radio, fight for clicks, or the internet chat rooms, only word of mouth. Yet, we face the same issues today only stronger and faster. Recently, Clemson’s football coach Dabo Swinney felt the power of the critic. Swinney was being harassed by a caller to his radio show for the lack of winning this season. The called asked about Swinney’s $11.5M salary amid a 4-4 season. Swinney pointed out the Tigers experienced 12 consecutive seasons of 10+ wins and won two national titles in seven years after a 35-year drought.

“This a bad year, and it's my responsibility. I take 100% responsibility for it, but all this bullcrap you're thinking, all these narratives you read – listen, man, you can have your opinion all you want and you can apply for the job and good luck to you. But to answer your question, we're second in draft picks, we've graduated 98% of our guys. … What’s happened at Clemson is we’ve won so much that it used to be the fun’s in the winning”.

Swinney didn’t need to go into detail with the caller, all he needed to do was to quote the Citizens of the Republic speech, later known as The Man in the Arena.” Roosevelt’s speech was a lesson to anyone who wants to “dare greatly” they will find themselves in a vulnerable position.

Being vulnerable isn’t about winning or losing. It’s not about the present or the past, it doesn’t cling to what have you done for us lately. Being vulnerable allows us to do great work, when we are vulnerable we will become acquainted with winning and losing—because you must experience both. Being vulnerable allows us to pursue the best version of ourselves. Being vulnerable forces us to engage in an “all-in” mentality and ignore the chatter. As Tom Brady once said about the speech “I have quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech since I saw it painted on our weight room wall at UM in 1995. It’s a constant reminder to ignore the noise, buckle my chinstrap, and battle through whatever comes my way.”

If we are going to do great work, we must first commit to being vulnerable. When we do, we won’t care about the caller, or the critic, we will only care about our quest to become great.

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