Why I’m wearing my Vulnerable Hat

vulnerable hat

In my career, I wear two hats – the Expert Hat and the Vulnerable Hat.

The first is that of subject matter expert. After more than thirteen years of deep focus on how to create an energized, meaningful, impactful career (and life), I feel pretty comfortable with that hat.

My other hat, though, is a little (OK, a lot) less comfortable. The Vulnerable Hat is the one worn by just another poor schlep trying to navigate things as best he can. It’s the hat of the guy who doesn’t always know what he’s doing, who feels fear, uncertainty, and doubt more often than he would like.

I like presenting the first hat to the world. It fits well, and I like how it looks. So it’s tempting to wear that hat and only that hat when I show myself in public (e.g., on this blog).

But that, my dear reader, would be doing you a disservice.

Everybody has a Vulnerable Hat

One of my pet peeves about the self-help/personal development world is how seldom the experts show up with their Vulnerable Hat on. With a few exceptions, you seldom hear them say, “Yeah, I’m really uncomfortable. I’m kinda racked with doubt about what I’m doing here. Boy, are my limiting stories up around this!”

And while I understand why, I think presenting a picture of only the Expert Hat paints an inaccurate picture that is impossible for anyone to live up to.

If you think of your career path as a journey, what you get from many personal development experts is a polished multi-media presentation about the trip. “Oh hey, that looks great!” you think. “I want to do that!”

And so you embark on your own adventure, only to discover that it’s not all highlights. You also get lost. You miss your flight. You get sick. Sometimes you just want to go home and sleep in your own warm, comfortable bed.

And somewhere along the way you start to feel like maybe you’re just not cut out for this. Something must be wrong with you, because, while you’re certainly experiencing some of the highlights, you’re also experiencing a big pile of suckitude.

Suckitude is normal

I want to tell you, that pile of suckitude is part and parcel with the adventure. The odds are piled high against your doing anything in your life that will make you look back and say “Yes!” without experiencing some bumps and bruises, fears and doubts along the way.

So I want to give you the good, juicy stuff. I want to come galloping in with my Expert Hat, giving you insights and looking good in the process. But I also want to be authentic and transparent, because I want to normalize the suckitude.

I want to reinforce the idea that it’s OK for the journey to be a mess, that it’s normal to feel like everyone else has it more together than you do.

Creating a career and a life that energizes and inspires you isn’t just about swooping in with your Looking-Good Hat and striking a pose (though that’s a fun part of it). It’s also about navigating the bumps, recognizing that they are part of the landscape, and not taking them on as your identity.

Getting in my own way (and doing it anyway)

I have been intending to start a video series for eons. I have so much I want to share, and doing it by video seems like a great addition to the mix.

But I haven’t. Why? Because I have stopped myself. I have stopped myself with a desire for perfection, researching how to do it, but never actually doing it. I have stopped myself by wanting to get it “right,” but not quite knowing what right is. I have stopped myself because I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at some level I haven’t wanted to “go public” with that ignorance. And, in an endless loop of stuckness, I have stopped myself with the inertia of not doing it.

Over the weekend, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just do it, imperfectly, and see where it takes me. It was fun, though I cringe a bit at the imperfection. Most importantly though, it was a step. It wasn’t just about making a couple videos. It was about setting something into motion and navigating the inevitable obstacles in the landscape.

And did I happen to mention that everybody has obstacles they’ll need to navigate? Some of those will be external. A lot of them will be internal.

If you experience those bumps and bruises, and that fear and doubt, it doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes. It just means you’re in motion.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing the video that came out of it.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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