Courage & vulnerability

I’ve done some more thinking on my Personal Philosophy statement — a short phrase or sentence that performance psychologist Michael Gervais suggests we establish to help prevent our fear of other peoples’ thoughts (FOPO) from removing your attention from the beliefs, talents, and values that empower us to thrive in the world.

The words “courage” and “vulnerability” emerged early in the brainstorming process.

Interestingly, the meaning of these words has subtly shifted and evolved the more I’ve repeated them to myself over the last few days.

When I think of “courage,” I now think of firmly embracing one’s beliefs and being willing to step into frightening situations like sharing an unpopular opinion, challenging a rule, trying something that is interesting but might not work, or engaging in the simple act of expressing one’s opinion which for many requires bravery.

When I think of “vulnerability,” I think of wearing your humanity on your sleeve, a willingness to acknowledge your imperfections, a willingness to be wrong at times, and a willingness to learn and grow.

Framed in these ways, these two words have a nice reinforcing relationship:

To be vulnerable is an act of courage — it’s not easy.

To be courageous is an act of vulnerability —it represents a willingness to show up in front of others as we are and to accept our imperfections wholeheartedly.

Right now, I like the state of mind that these two words put me in so I’ll continue to use them. Maybe they’ll be valuable for you, or maybe they don’t quite resonate, which is okay!

If there’s anything I learned from developing a personal philosophy statement these past few days, it’s that it’s good to experiment. You learn more about what you actually value and what works for you along the way.



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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (