The Courage to Show Up!

Accountability Authenticity Courage


Key Point: Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Have the courage to really show up in work and life. Make up your mind to be a friggin’ badass and just bring it! 

This week (as we regularly do with ALL new recruits), our CEO and I personally connected with our new hires and asked them to declare themselves “All In” or “All Out.” After 90 days, when team members have enough information to know if they can connect with our culture to become impact players and story creators, we ask them to declare which category they identify with. If they are “All In, they individually tell our CEO that they choose to go forward. If they honestly think they can’t or don’t want to be, we want them to leave with dignity and a month’s pay… No questions asked. When we describe what being “All In” means, we ask people to “show up and bring it.” This is not about perfection or having every day go smoothly. We understand that’s not realistic for any of us. However, we want people to be vulnerable and courageous. Vulnerability is not about winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up, especially when we have little or no assurance of the outcome. And most often at work, even though we want to manage risk as best as possible, we can’t control everything. Hence we must have team members who will step out, stand out, speak up, invent, reimagine, connect, advance and story (a verb). When we create own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in tales someone else is telling. We consciously see ourselves as both author and protagonist based on what we actually think, feel and do. You can’t just think you’d like to step up, and stand out… You have to feel it and do it too. 

We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both at the same time. Having the courage to be vulnerable means knowing that you’re going to do something you want to do—and that you may fail at doing it. Leaning into this fear and failure is uncomfortable, and probably causes our stomachs to rumble. But that’s something we’ve got to be okay with if we want to fulfill our highest potential—both personally and professionally. And that’s what we expect of ourselves as leaders in our company and how we want ALL people in ALL roles to think, feel and act. 

Dr. Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors and teachers. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brené’s 2010 TED Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, has been viewed more than 20 million times and is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. (Watch it here). She has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  She has numerous best sellers and her brand-new book is titled Rising Strong. In it, she writes,

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” 

We want everyone in the arena engaged, with scraped knees, and “dirt on their uniforms.” You can’t be a story creator, and real impact player without being vulnerable and stepping out… That means failing, winning, failing again and ultimately rising strong as Dr. Brown emphasizes. If you sit on the sidelines, we want you “all out!” Have the courage to be vulnerable, and then we know you’ll be “All In!”

Character Moves:  

  1. Recognize that while failing is not something we intentionally set out to do, the practical physics of vulnerability is that we will eventually fall. But learning from the fall, if we really listen to those who deeply care for us and ourselves, helps us grow and changes us for the better. How great is that?! 
  2. Being vulnerable includes self-respect and fully accepting that we as individuals are more than enough. However, our thinking, feeling, and action may NOT YET be. It fills us with optimism and the courage to take chances and create our own story! 

Vulnerable in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Did you get chills? I got chills. I bet everyone (myself included) can think of 10 real time scenarios in life where we could be a little more vulnerable, but we may keep telling ourselves the safe zone is “best for now.” Even as a Millennial I somehow get an “excuse” for more time wasted, as if my clock isn’t ticking. But realistically, the confidence to attempt what I’m scared of is always the most attractive option, and even if my dismount doesn’t land, it’ll only draw a clearer map for the next course of action. That’s scary and uncomfortable. But I’d like to accept that life should be scary and uncomfortable sometimes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis