Is it a weakness to show vulnerability?
It was a sunny yet moody day in the beautiful town of Malvern. I was due to meet a mentoring client for her monthly session in the stunning Abbey Hotel.
I always use the phrase "You are your business" and encourage my clients to honestly and openly share how their journey has been since our last meet up. I believe that this approach clears any lingering energies, paving the way for progress and yes success whatever success is to the individual.
I could see she was wearing a 'mask' trying to hide her true feelings so she would remain and appear 'professional'.
An ex corporate lady, she was used to the constant mask- wearing that the corporate world dictated so I decided I would encourage it to slip off in a mask-slipping demonstration.
"My God this last month has been shit!" I said. "What a challenging month!" It had been for many reasons personally and professionally.
Her face shifted into a more relaxed "thank flip for that" expression and the mask was tossed to the floor.
"Really you( of all people?) have had a tough time too?" she stated.
I then shared a few simple yet blaringly truthful happenings that had occurred making it a tough time since our last session.
This was met with incredulity and yes relief!
I know there are coaches and mentors out there who would not dare to admit this to themselves let alone their clients who invest in their services, but two of my core values is truth and integrity. I simply cannot and will not lie.
I don't want to be someone who appears perfect in every sense - perfection does not exist in our human world in my view!
It was exactly what was required.
The floodgates opened and the whole drama of the last month fell out of her mouth leaving her exhausted yet relieved.
Her posture showed she was ready to do some work and let go of the weight of the month.
We proceeded to have a truly incredible session for both of us; a real unexpected bonus for me as her mentor.
My vulnerability gave her permission to be open and share her story without embarrassment or judgement.
The additional icing on the cake was that it endeared us to form a stronger bond. One of trust, respect and openness; keys to a fruitful and successful mentor/mentee relationship.
I know we are British and we often use the "stiff upper lip" scenario. Yes it can serve a purpose at times yet it can also create the start of a festering dis-ease within that if left unattended can breed and multiply causing emotional and mental pain "Mental Illness!"
I appreciate that when you own a business you need to be many things to many people, but if you do no acknowledge your current state, it will eventually impact on your business as "YOU are your business".
It works in your personal life too!
On a personal note, I was due to meet up with a lovely lady this week but knew I wasn't feeling sociable due to the last month's fallout so I told her.
I admitted I wasn't at my best and that our meet up was putting pressure on me as I reached for the discarded mask to unwittingly protect her from how I was truly feeling.
The relief it brought me was liberating.
The ' lovely lady' accepted my words, understood and thanked me for sharing and then surrounded me in LOVE.
Keeping ourselves well.
As someone who works on a daily basis to keep herself well and mentally balanced, I believe sharing our truth and vulnerability sets us free, giving us the time and space to do what we need to do to bring us back 'home'. For me it's walking with my dog Beano.
I walk it all out! Returning home, muddy, red faced and weary.
So how can we take this mask-slipping exercise forward into the mainstream?
How about when you next ask someone "How are you?" you mean it.
What if their reply indicated that they were in emotional and mental pain? You might be the person to initiate them reaching out for help.
What if by asking genuinely "how are you?" you encourage others to do the same? And what if by you asking this question you actually save someone's life!
It can and does happen.
So lovely Huffington Post community, I for one am not embarrassed or ashamed to admit my vulnerability. I reach out to those who love and support me and ask them to share my pain so it disappears with the power of their love.
I for one embrace my strength in being truly vulnerable and urge you to do the same.