V is for Vulnerable

Sections of this topic

    I struggled with this entry for a couple of reasons. I wasn’t sure is vulnerable was the “right” word to explore and I wasn’t sure what I would write about it. Now I know why I struggled, I needed to live it not write about it.

    Last week I had two things happen to me that being vulnerable is the perfect way to describe how I felt. When we lead with our spirits in our work, we open up the risk to being exposed to criticism, rejection or other tough things that can deflate our spirits. However, our vulnerability can help others in a profound way.

    Setting a good example in a disappointing event

    I wrote a gratitude reflection called from Entitlement to Enlightenment about the experience I had with thinking I was entitled to have Lasik surgery to realizing how disappointed I was to find out that I probably won’t be able to. The enlightenment came when I was vulnerable and realized that lack of gratitude I’ve had for years of my eyes. Focusing on this new gratitude enabled me to experience not new eyesight, but new insight. I shared my reflection with a friend who also was planning for Lasik surgery as well this month. She just emailed how sharing my initial struggle to eventually gratitude helped her. She wrote,


    Ever since reading about your experience with the eye doctor and not being able to have the surgery I have really thought about how lucky i was to have contacts. (Not thankful for glasses as they give a headache. 🙂 )

    Today I went for a second consultation. This doctor with much more experience and education has told me that I am not a candidate in his opinion. I was shocked; I didn’t expect to hear this at all. I was told that if I go and have a certain test done at another clinic that has a special machine that perhaps it could be an option, but didn’t look promising. I am not doing this test.

    If I had never read your experience and how you handled the news with such grace and gratitude I think I would have cried at the doctor’s office. I am disappointed, but it could be worse. And thank god that I can wear contacts.

    Thank you so much for setting such a wonderful example of how to find good in a disappointing event. You are a blessing to me. – Shelley

    Don’t wait to get hit in the head to “get it”

    I know that we need to live our messages, but I didn’t realize to what extent! I was the presenter for the first annual Women Connect retreat at my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Nearly fifty women signed up to spend the morning with me learning how to live a grateful and inspired life.

    Excited to share my life’s work and passion, I’m getting set up for the morning. The last thing I have to do is to set up my booth of books and products. I go to unstrap the bungee cord that has my two crates of products secured to it and it flings up and smacks me directly above my right eye on my forehead. I’m shocked and not quite sure what happened. The blood gushing out indicates that it was serious. Safety and Security inform me that I’ll need to get some stitches and will need to do so now.

    I’m confused as to what’s happening as I’m supposed to be the one leading the retreat. So I start sharing with wonderful Women Connect team how they can get started while I go to urgent care and get stitched up. Well urgent care didn’t work out so good and we needed to go to the ER instead. The doctor there confidently gives me three stitches. While waiting for Sara in the ER lobby, who has been graciously escorting me all morning, I’m thinking about my husband’s response that I’ll have to find something witty to share back to the group with what happened. I open the newsletter/magazine called Essential Wellness. The first page article is the one titled as this tile. I couldn’t believe it, this was my witty opener when I came back.

    I arrive back at St. Thomas with 15 minutes remaining of the presentation. I walk into the room and receive a standing ovation. I’m in awe and share how I received my only standing ovation for not saying a word! Then I share my witty “getting hit on the head/getting it” opener. The audience laughs again.

    I’m still reflecting on what happened and why it happened. Throughout the whole experience I felt vulnerable as something like this has never happened to me before. I believe everything happens for a reason yet it hasn’t all been revealed yet why this has happened to me. Was it that I didn’t need to say anything but to just live the message I was saying? Was it that the morning needed to take a different direction that I had planned? Was it that I needed to come back for a follow up? Was it that I needed this to happen so that I can get it? Was it that now I’ll forever have a great opener for other audiences? For whatever reason it was meant to happen, I’ll trust God’s plan.

    Later that evening I take the time to actually read the article. The author/editor talks about her experience of getting hit on the head and the importance of “getting right back on the saddle again.” Was this the reason it happened, to encourage me to get back on the saddle? She also shares later how she hit her head again and then she learned she needed to do something different. Was this hit on my head a wake up call for me to be doing something different?

    Was it a way to reinforce my mission encouraging people to get it – the heart of what matters most to them? Was it so that I could write this gratitude reflection and share it with you? Often times we don’t know why things happen, we just need to be grateful that it’s something that’s suppose to happen that will help us “get it” – and hopefully for you, you won’t need to get hit the head like me to discover it.

    In what ways has your vulnerability benefited others?


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.