Vulnerability and the “Naked King”

One of my favorite fairy tales is by Hans Christian Andersen is “The Emperor’s New Clothes“.  My kids like to read it and we spend a lot of time laughing about a fool king and some cunning weavers.  Indeed, greed and stupidity are ridiculed in this tale at the highest level.

But today I would like to focus on something beyond the tale. I would like to focus on fear. The fear of being vulnerable. What really makes me wonder in this story is a great picture of fear and great falseness. Everyone makes an effort to avoid telling the truth. All of them pretend that everything is wonderful and amazing. Is this a trustworthy and healthy kingdom?

And what really impress is me is a child. Indeed, only a little boy isn’t afraid to tell the truth. And he is the only one who has his own point and says it. Maybe, he doesn’t have any assumptions about vulnerability.  Perhaps, he doesn’t depend on any one else’s opinions.

I don’t know.

In the meantime, vulnerability is a essential part of trustworthiness and trust in any team. Why are we scared of being vulnerable? Why do we often depend on or think that we need another opinion? How often are we pretending?

In order to understand and maintain our ability to be vulnerable I have a short exercise for you.

Exercise  the “Naked king”

  1. Think of and find one example from your life where you were faced with similar situation.
  2. Try to remember what you felt. Did you have any fear of being vulnerable?
  3. If you encountered any fear and discomfort try to identify 3 reasons (Why did you feel it?). And write them.
  4. Find 3 ideas of how to overcome these fears.
  5. Use these ideas next time when you think you might be vulnerable. Check your recipes every time you meet the “Naked king”.

In my next article I will tell you about an exercise to embrace team vulnerability.


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