To live a Big Life you have to put yourself out there. It’s scary. You might be rejected. People might make fun of you. You feel like playing small and staying safe. You tell yourself “someday.”
Ultimately we all want to create meaningful connections with others. To do this, we’ve got to learn how to live with vulnerability and uncertainty.
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
You can hear Brené explain it in her book trailer:
Can’t see the video? Click here.
As an EMS helicopter pilot, I’m constantly exposed to risk. My job is to mitigate that risk.
Risk Assessment matrixes are used to evaluate the level of risk for a particular flight. You can see some examples here. They help pilots make “Go” or “No-Go” decisions. It takes some of the emotion out of the decision-making process. If the risk goes above a certain level, the risk must be reduced (wait for better weather, off-load some weight, etc.) or the flight must be declined.
It isn’t that I don’t do fly if there is a higher than normal risk, I’m just aware of the increased risk.
A Risk Assessment Tool for Life
I know the value of having a risk assessment tool as a pilot. But what if we had one for our lives?
Intrigued, I put my inner geek to work and created a Vulnerability Assessment Matrix. It will help us understand what activities might have us feel more “out there” than others.
Knowing when you are really vulnerable can help you think about ways to reduce your vulnerability to a manageable level or prepare yourself for a “vulnerability hangover.”
Don’t see the matrix? Download it as a PDF.
Exposure versus Emotional Support
Factors that increase our exposure are on the left side of the matrix. If I haven’t had enough sleep or food, I’m much more likely to crumple in tears during an emotional moment. I’m also not a night owl, so I’m inherently more vulnerable at night. I’m comfortable with groups, so my exposure level doesn’t become high until speaking to more than fifty people.
Along the top of the matrix is emotional support. I’m won’t feel as vulnerable if I can share all my fears and worries with a friend. Not putting a plan in place for accountability might let fear sneak in and stop me. Unless you can keep the exposure level low, avoid situations that will trigger past trauma.
We all want to live a Big Life and make meaningful connections with others. This requires vulnerability. Quantifying vulnerability helps you manage it.