Global defense spending is higher than ever, with USD 1.822bn, or 2.1% of global GDP. With over 200 million sold SUVs, the share of bigger and heavier cars has reached its all-time high representing 40% of annual car sales, today. We hide behind armored cars, but: Vulnerability is power — why not removing the armor, stopping playing a role, and starting to be authentic, with strengths and weaknesses?
We tend to defend ourselves and to hide behind the armour. Driving an SUV, might — in a way — be comparable with driving a tank: sitting in an elevated position that provides a good overview of the surroundings, shielded by a spacious vehicle with a typically aggressive appearance and a high engine performance. One needs only to think of the latest Tesla model, the Cybertruck.
Living in the most peaceful period of time in history, we apparently feel a need to protect ourselves from threats, or, the other way round, we want to demonstrate strength, dynamics, and willingness, or to recklessly pursue our personal interests.
The psychological explanation of this behavior is simple: it’s fear. We live in fear of losing something, of falling behind, of not winning, or of being overlooked. Can we generalize this diagnosis?
At the age of 15, I quitted classic guitar lessons and started playing the electric guitar in a school band. Before our first gig, the band was ultra nervous. How would our classmates and other concert-goers react? Would they be friendly and applaud, or would it be the greatest disaster of our high school careers? After 90 minutes, there was a relief: It was a great success — after a few songs, we were getting cooler and performed well. The audience cheered — simply because we had over-delivered based on their non-existing expectation level.
What I personally learned from this and subsequent concerts is the power of vulnerability. Imagine some 15-year-olds entering the stage and performing a few Rock’n’Roll songs with their rather thin high voices, imitating famous rock stars. There is a fine line between looking silly or cool. And the harder we had been trying to look cool, the funnier it would have looked. Instead, we did not try to imitate AC/DC, but to be ourselves and to interpret the songs the best we could. Apparently, this authenticity was the key to our success, not necessarily the quality of our performance. We were visibly vulnerable, and the audience dealt with that in a friendly, open, and sympathetic manner.
This was my first personal experience with open vulnerability. Later on, I learned that the art is not to actively expose one’s vulnerability but to let it be discovered by removing one’s armor. Today, I would not necessarily tell everybody all about my faults. However, if someone realizes a fault or weakness of mine, I don’t try to hide it, but I allow it to be and to be accepted — or not.
Vulnerability is power, not weakness — it might take some time to understand this concept. We all are vulnerable, even Achilles was. So why hide behind armor? Why not removing the armor, stopping playing a role, and becoming authentic, with strengths and weaknesses? Just try it — allow yourself to be vulnerable! It‘s good for your health, you‘ll feel less stressed, and your partner, kids, and friends will love it!