Welcome to #VulneRevolution, people! The “ice breaker” of the series, as promised, is Mr. Ivan Hunt, CPC, ELI-MP, life coach. If you’d like to find out how an ex-military sees vulnerability, check out his words, below.
Thank you very much for being part of our #VulneRevolution series!
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1. What is your interpretation of vulnerability?
The first word that comes to mind is “transparency”. If you look up all the synonyms for “vulnerability“, virtually all of the words come from a place of “victim”; whereas, I don’t think of vulnerability with a victim mind state. I view vulnerability as the willingness to be open and honest, not with just others, but with oneself. This willingness implicitly comes with the knowledge and acceptance that the possibility, not probability, but possibility that you may get rejected, criticized, etc. Now, that’s strength!
2. Can you tell us about a time when you were vulnerable in the workplace?
It’s kind of a long story, so I’ll do my best to keep it short…
I was sitting in the COO’s office one day as she and I had a very good rapport and I needed/wanted her advice. My marriage was in shambles, again (2nd marriage) and I didn’t know what to do. I was in tears. The CEO and CFO both heard me crying in her office. The CEO actually walked in and looked at me with a smirk on his face. I was humiliated and I knew that I had “lost” some respect amongst them, but I was at my wits end. I was having a nervous breakdown.
I had been seeing a psychiatrist for the better part of a year, at my wife’s request, nonetheless. I had battled substance abuse for years, which was the main reason for me going to the psychiatrist. I was a few weeks away from finalizing my custody agreement with my ex-wife after an exhausting (mentally, emotionally and financially) four-years custody battle. My wife and I had lived the last four years under the microscope of the family judicial system. It was brutal on me and on my marriage. My dad was in the hospital after having open heart surgery and he was not completely stable yet. I had never seen such a strong man so vulnerable before. Additionally, I had consistently worked 11-12 hour days, plus most Saturdays and some Sundays for the last five to six months. I was spent. I had nothing left. I sat there and cried…
3. What happened?
Needless to say, I was looked at differently from that day forward. I wasn’t part of the “group” anymore. At first, it was really hard on me. I was embarrassed! Here I am, this big ex-military guy, crying his eyes out in the COO’s office! In hindsight, it was the end of a nightmare and the dawn of a new day…
“That day, my mind stopped. That day, I was no longer ashamed or embarrassed about what had happened in the COO’s office. That day, the transition from living in grey to living in color started!”
My wife called my psychiatrist and there was an emergency intervention. My psychiatrist knew I was in a bad place and I had a history of drug relapse, plus a bad temper. I went and saw her (the psychiatrist) that evening. Prior to me leaving her office that night, she gave me a homework assignment that required me to do some research. On a yellow post-it, she wrote down “bipolar and borderline personality disorder”. I started my research the next day and my world changed. That day, my mind stopped. That day, I was no longer ashamed or embarrassed about what had happened in the COO’s office. That day, the transition from living in grey to living in colour started!
4. Do you regret it?
No, I don’t! Would I advise going about it, the way I did? No, I wouldn’t. At first, I regretted it, but not now. I wear that day as a badge of honor. In fact, I started telling people what happened and what I discovered about myself.
Interestingly enough, most of my female counterparts openly admitted to me that they, too, were seeing a therapist, psychiatrist or whatever. I was shocked, because I thought I was the only one…
Oddly, my male counterparts looked at me with more respect. The admiration came from my openness about what all had happened. Like I said, here I was, this ex-military tough guy, that was admitting to have cried in the COO’s office and owning up to having mood disorders.
The mere fact that I was openly discussing it was a clear message to the C-Suite that I didn’t need to be in their group, nor did I need their approval.
5. Nowadays, do you consider that being true to yourself and others is a sign of weakness/ vulnerability or strength? And why?
I don’t think being true to oneself is any of the three.
In my opinion (that’s my caveat), being true to you, or put another way, living in your truth, is a sign of maturity and wisdom. The operative word is “being”. “Being” is living as who you are, “truth”. The truth of myself, are all emotions and feelings to include weakness/vulnerability or strength but also love, joy, peace, happiness, servitude, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, playfulness, and the list goes on and on. Being true to yourself is life itself.
“There I was, this ex-military tough guy, that was admitting to have cried in the COO’s office and owning up to having mood disorders.”
6. How did your experience with vulnerability influence your current state of mind? Would you recommend others to talk about it?
My experience with vulnerability helped me identify a core value: transparency. Transparency doesn’t always mean that you are going to tell the world every single detail about your life. When I decided that I had to share my story with people, one, I realized I wasn’t alone, two, that I provided others with the knowledge that they weren’t alone.
I most definitely recommend that people talk about it and be willing to share their unique story. I know that there are some people that don’t feel comfortable with sharing their experiences, and that’s perfectly okay but for those that are comfortable, do it. Somebody is always watching and listening and you never know who you may impact in a positive way.
7. If you can sum up in 1 word how you feel about your experience with vulnerability what would it be?
LIBERATED ! I view vulnerability as the willingness to be open and honest, not with just others, but with oneself. Being true to yourself is life itself.
Ivan Hunt, thank you for being – so openly – part of this and for your amazing answers!
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