How To Turn Your Vulnerability Into A Superpower By Taz Thornton

For far too long in the business world, women have been typecast – they are those who have businesses which relate to lifestyle or a ‘hobby’ or they are in the boardroom ‘trying to be male’. 

This is still common parlance in business-circles because women often have smaller, micro businesses and may not be interested in ‘scaling up’ or they are in senior management teams where they feel in order to be heard they must be something ‘other’ than themselves. Consider the way in which women are often portrayed in the media, even today: as  tough ball breakers, agony aunts or the femme fatale.. occasionally a blend, but more often than not, a stereotype.

As society things are changing and moving in the right direction and women have come a long way but, if women are going to step into their real power, women are the ones who need to break the mould. There are so many elements to look at around this subject of being a woman, but number one on the agenda is ‘vulnerability’. Taz Thornton, an inspirational speaker, coach and author who was recently named Female Business Professional of the Year for Central England shows us how we can channel our vulnerability into a superpower.

Vulnerability

Too often vulnerability is seen as a weakness when, in fact, it can be a superpower when harnessed smartly. When women show up as they truly are, when women share where they’ve come from and what they’ve overcome and then dare to share dreams for their futures – women show colleagues and connections a human being and that creates relatability.

This means that other women see themselves ‘out there’ not as celebrity icons but as fellow women on similar journeys who have been through similar lived experiences. It creates hope and inspiration and in 2021, all women, and men, are going to need plenty of that! Whether it’s an internal blog telling a story, or an employee profile or focus on a company website, or even posts on LinkedIn, when women step away from strategy, overheads and corporate rhetoric and start showing truth, they will start to break the mould.

Remember the ‘mould’ of what a woman in business should be  was created by men, however it’s women who are the ones who keep squeezing themselves into it. Life and business doesn’t need to be about competing, success doesn’t need to be about money. Women no longer need to adhere to that old line about working harder than all the guys in order to prove themselves. No woman needs to become a hard nut to get ahead.

Women need to take the lead and ditch the outmoded ideas about highlighting chinks in their armour, being seen as overly emotional or needing to be hard as nails in the office. In 2021, women have an opportunity to create a new level of badass! There is nothing more impressive than a woman in her power, owning everything she’s been through, proud of every past misstep that delivered valuable lessons, eager to help others climb the ladder without fear of being overtaken, and absolutely set on serving, supporting and winning her way to an amazing future. For some women that may mean financial success, it may mean a top job, or it may mean something else entirely.

The A-Game

Winning doesn’t need to mean trampling over others or wearing an A-type personality to work – or trying to be more ‘male’. It’s less about A-type and more about A-game.

When women start focussing on their personal A-game, they will start to see who they are really inspiring in their own circles or in their own company. This could mean sparing a bit of time to help someone struggling, perhaps in a mentor capacity – even if only for a few moments. It could mean sharing a hardship overcome, in order to inspire someone else and prove there’s hope in the world. It might mean showing care, allowing that compassion to shine through, instead of buttoning up pinstripe shields and pretending to be impenetrable.

Think about some of the great female role models today: Michelle Obama, Oprah, Mel Robbins, Jacina Ardern… the list goes on. What do they have in common? Heart! They’re not afraid of vulnerability. They don’t shy away from showing emotion.  They’re not trying to be ‘one of the boys’  they are embracing their strong and awesome ‘female’ and respecting the men around them at the same time.

Personal experience

Years ago, at the top of the tree in corporate publishing, I wore masks that were so heavy, they were crushing.  I didn’t know how to lead my staff properly. I didn’t know how to build relatability. I thought it was all about steering, rather than leading; work hard, play hard; praise only for going over and above, not ‘well done’ for doing the job expected of them.

Old school. Old ideas. Utterly broken. Then breakdown hit, and I felt I had to hide it at work for fear of showing weakness and I became more and more mentally unwell. It wasn’t until I got out of that place, began to heal, rebuild and work on myself that I realised the importance of showing more heart. That lesson came by accident. In a moment of just wanting to come clean, to relieve the burden and admit to friends and loved ones how much I’d been struggling, I recorded a Facebook video from my car.

For the first time, I spoke openly about the abuse I’d been through, about the depression, about the breakdown, about my failed attempts to escape life. I hit send and held my breath.I was absolutely convinced that showing that level of vulnerability to the world would spell the end of my relatively new, self-employed career as a coach, mentor and trainer.

In fact, the opposite happened. People messaged me to tell my words had changed – and sometimes saved – their life. From there came media attention – BBC, Huff Post, DIVA, Kindred Spirit, regional and local newspapers. Work enquiries started to flood in. I was in demand. I can trace every bit of ‘success’ I’ve had since back to that video – awards, speaking engagements across the world, book deals – everything.

Make 2021 the year of the woman!

Men created Stepford, however it’s women who can break the mould.  When women lead from the heart, when women drop all those old, outdated ideas about acceptable corporate behaviours and start to get more in touch with the power of woman kind, that’s when women everywhere will realise that showing vulnerability really can be a superpower. And if ever the world needs an army of superheroes, it’s now.

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