The Power of Vulnerability – How to Create a Happy Workplace and Career!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Vulnerability as the state of being left without shelter or protection against something harmful. That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  Really, who wants to do that?  I don’t know about you but I don’t! Or should I say, I didn’t. As much as we hate the idea of being open to the “possibility” of getting hurt, we need it in order to truly CONNECT with other people. This ability to connect with others is very important especially in our workplace and careers.

1/3 of your life is spent at work!

It’s amazing to think that we spend more time with the people we work with than our own families. That is, unless you work side by side with your spouse, partner, parent, child, or children. Some of us are lucky enough to work with our families, but the majority of people don’t.

Author Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, a large portion of our days is spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. That equals 30 years.  If you live to be 90, you will spend 1/3 of your life in the workplace.  That’s a very LONG time!

Life is precious and as far as I know, we only get ONE life to live.  It we’re gonna spend 1/3 of our lives in our workplace and career of choice, why not be somewhere and do something that makes us happy? It make sense right?  What we do every day should make us happy and we should love going to work. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most Americans.

Most of Americans are unhappy at work.

According to recent article in Forbes, 53 percent of Americans are currently unhappy at work. Consider that for a second. Half of the workforce is unhappy. That is sad. – Forbes.com

Optometrists are not exempt from this epidemic unhappiness in the workplace.  According to a survey from Women in Optometry Magazine, nearly 40% of female optometrist report they are not happy in their career.  Considering that there’re approximately 20,000 female optometrists in the country, this data indicates that nearly 8,000 are unhappy in their career.  That’s a lot of people!

Why are so many people unhappy at work?

According to Psychology Today, one of the top reasons is Lack of Social Connections.

With rapid turnover, many workers do not stay with a company long enough to make strong social connections. This leads to weak organizational cultures, where people feel isolated and disconnected, and this fuels unhappiness.

Many people are unhappy at work simply because they feel isolated and disconnected.  That is why at Optometry Divas, part of our mission is to build a thriving community of women OD’s who have real, trusting and meaningful connections and relationships with each other.  Lack of connection is toxic to our work environment because it creates a culture of contempt and cynicism.

Instead of supporting and celebrating one another, we criticize, denigrate and even bash one another.  Why, just take a look at some of the popular social media platforms and you’ll have plenty of examples of our lack of connection, respect and value of our colleagues.  It is really unfortunate, because we could be so much more! We really are better than this.

How can we create a happier workplace/career?

It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think, it’s tough to open up, it’s hard to connect. That is why vulnerability is so important. Vulnerability is the willingness to show up and be seen by others in the face of uncertain outcomes. There’s not a single act of courage that doesn’t involve vulnerability.

Being vulnerable at work and emotionally available and in tune doesn’t mean you must be best friends with all your colleagues, though there’s plenty of research that suggests forming friendships with your colleagues can make you happier in your career. Now, this is not about going for broke with every vulnerable moment. It’s about developing relationships that incorporate vulnerability little by little, and elevating others–rather than yourself–in the process.

I challenge you…

  1. The next time a colleague or coworker asks you, how you’re doing, don’t just say “good”.  Instead, REALLY tell them how you’re doing. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you’re not alone in your situation.
  2. The next time you’re at a professional function, go out of your way to meet someone new.  Start a conversation and just listen without going on and on about yourself.
  3. The next time you feel the urge to say or post something derogatory about a colleague, DON’T.

Guys, The most simple things in life are usually the most meaningful.  It’s great to have your degrees, accolades, financial successes, recognition, ect… But at the core of us all, we all desire the same thing – Happiness and Connection!  Vulnerability is a very important bridge to developing real, trusting and meaningful connections and relationships with each other.

Here’s a video about vulnerability in the workplace with Dr. Brene Brown.

If you enjoy these blogs and they’ve added value to your life, please share them with a colleague!  You can do that below by adding them to our email list.Thank you for sharing!

Until next time, remember to keep your heart open to the possibilities of life!

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