Training: A Lesson in Vulnerability

I was recently afforded the opportunity to do a training for my Green Compass team. In my previous company I would have never been allowed to speak so freely- everything was carefully curated by our upline.

I took this role very seriously- and I know I overthought it. However, I wanted to do a good job because I genuinely care about not wasting people’s time.

I agonized over what topic to train on because there was that little voice inside my head that was calling me a fraud and telling me that no one wants to listen to a training by me. Anyone else have that little voice/asshole too?

After doing the training (Live on Facebook). I realized that there were some people in my life that I wanted to share my work with.

Here is a modified version of that training. I hope you find value in it:

Hi, my name is Trina and I am just a Senior Team Leader with Green Compass Global.

Hi, my name is Trina and I’m just the person behind the blog, UnSocially Acceptable. 

Hi, I am Trina and I am just a mom.

…just a wife. 

I am just belittling myself because I am afraid to be vulnerable.

I am afraid to let you see who I really am. 

I am afraid to put myself out there. 

The truth- I am a mom to a special needs teen. I have been married for 15 years.

I am so much more than that though.

I am a professional photographer, writer & blogger, I am a person who obtained their Master’s degree while working 3 jobs, 2 of which were full time, while still supporting my family. 

I am so much more than “just a” will ever allow me to be… and so are you.

So why do we undermine our achievements with “just a”? The answer is simple, we are all afraid to be vulnerable. 

Dr. Brene Brown of the University of Houston is a shame researcher and her work is so thought provoking to me- not to mention that she’s from my hometown! Go Astros! If you haven’t already checked out her TED talks or read her books, I highly suggest that you do. She is so insightful. 

Through her research Brene discovered that vulnerability is the most accurate measurement of courage. It is only when we embrace our own vulnerability- through uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure that we are actually being our true authentic and courageous selves. 

So, the whole point of this training today is to show you the value behind vulnerability and to encourage you to “do it scared.” 

I hear this all the time from my team, “Trina, I want to do more things like go live on Facebook buuuut I am scared that I will say something wrong and people will make fun of me or I will say something stupid and discredit myself.”

My response is to say, “I totally get that, but do it anyway. Do it scared.” I don’t say that to be mean, I say that because I truly believe that in order to succeed we need to put our true selves out there. And I don’t mean that if we don’t ask we won’t receive. What I mean is, in order to be truly authentic to the people we are talking to we have to do things that put us in a vulnerable position and what better way than a Facebook live? Right?! Get’s the blood pumping, that’s for sure.

Or I hear, “Trina, I can’t reach out to people and talk to them. What if they tell me to bugger off?” My response, again, “do it scared.” And if they tell you to bugger off, then you don’t need that kind of person in your life. Click “unfriend” and move on. 

Do it scared.

Do. It. Scared. 

Y’all, Facebook lives ARE scary. As someone with severe anxiety and as someone with a neuromuscular disease that makes me both fidget and stutter, a recording is definitely the easy way out. BUT what kind of example would I be setting in a training on doing something scared and being vulnerable if I couldn’t do a training live on the air for all to see?

Side note: I am a firm believer that leaders lead through example, I will never tell someone on my team to do something that I wouldn’t do myself so there I was, Live on Facebook, battling a head cold (turned out to be pneumonia), and training a few hundred people.  

Recently, a friend of mine posted a video about her five biggest fears and her 5 steps to combat those fears. I was in awe of her. Talk about vulnerability. I mean, she laid it all out on the table. Later that night, she and I were talking and she said that she had the most engagement she had ever had on Facebook after doing that live video. It truly doesn’t surprise me because I ALWAYS have a lot of engagement after I post a video or go live. Why is that? Because it is more authentically me- it is just me talking, and I may mess up, misspeak, fidget, or stutter but on social media, it is the next best thing to me being in the room with you and talking to you directly. It isn’t tailored to be social media perfect, or as I call it, “Socially Acceptable.” 

I mentioned earlier, I run the blog UnSocially Acceptable. In my blog, I talk about the “hard things.” Things we don’t talk about on social media because they can’t be wrapped up in a pretty little post with a fun filter. I talk about things like my autoimmune diseases, having a special needs child, my miscarriages, my broken heart about an adoption that fell through, my anxiety, and my depression. I put all of that out there for the world to judge and hate me for it. 

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have EXTREME anxiety after I post a blog because I am so afraid of the keyboard warriors and their hateful comments like, “God hates you, that’s why he gave you a special needs child and made you infertile.” People can be mean and they can be downright horrible to people who are exercising vulnerability on the internet. 

Each time I post a blog, I hesitate over the “stop commenting” button before I hit “publish.” It would be so easy to stop those comments. But then, I think about the reason why I created my blog and the people who read it. I want to help people. I was once alone in my thoughts and grief and I found myself wishing for someone to understand what I was going through, so I created my blog so that if anyone walks through a similar season of life as what I experienced, they would know that they are not alone. They would see that they belong. So, as much as it rips my soul apart, I write these blog entries and post them for that person, whoever they are. 

I post it scared. 

Scared of the backlash.

But I post it.

Because just like you with Green Compass, I feel like I have something to offer people. For my blog, I have my life story to offer. For Green Compass, I have, you have, we have a quality product that everyone could benefit from.

So many members of my team struggle with reaching out or posting because they are scared of the backlash and judgment. I want to encourage them and you all to lean into that curve and do it scared. Reach out to people. Just do it. Scripts are great for some but you can just be yourself too. I promise you that after each attempt it gets easier and easier. 

When we are vulnerable we tap into authenticity and that authenticity is what reaches your audience and builds trust. We all know that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Also, there is something so freeing about being vulnerable. 

What I mean is that through your vulnerability you release your fears and allow yourself to simply just be you- no pretenses. 

Of course, I don’t mean that you need to go out and just confess your innermost secrets or start a blog. Just try adding in small things like when you are out in public, say Starbucks, rather than sit off in the corner, sit at the community table. I do this all the time, now, I didn’t always until I started to be more deliberate with putting myself out there more. I walk up to the table, I simply say, “Hi, do you mind if I sit here?” No, great, thanks. My name is Trina- nice to meet you.” 

Now, I know some of y’all are like, “Whhhhaaaatttt? I can’t do that.” I know that this sounds crazy. I know some of y’all are even thinking, “Oh Trina’s from Texas, everyone is friendly in Texas.” Which it is true but I do this wherever I go, people are generally not rude. Try this and make new friends, even if they are just your friend for a fleeting moment. This is great practice and if you do happen to get a rude person – hey – you won’t ever see that person again anyway. 

Learn to talk to people. Have a conversation. If you can find a natural way to lead with the business take that opportunity to do so. It should be very easy to find a segue to Green Compass. If the person is engaging with you, the question, “what do you do?” will likely come up! Going back to my opening statement, don’t belittle your chosen occupation. That’s what this is, your chosen occupation, you chose to advocate for Green Compass. You need to own this. Do not be afraid of their response. Proudly say, “I have my own CBD business and I advocate for responsible cannabis use.” You can choose to say more or you can allow your new friend to press and ask you questions because odds are you just piqued their interest. What’s more, you didn’t belittle yourself or your business and you were vulnerable. Your vulnerability to actually say what you do has now authentically attracted the attention of a new person. 

In order to form a real connection with someone we have to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, for us, there are no guarantees on vulnerability. We can be so very vulnerable and still not be successful and you need to know that- this is still okay. It happens but do not become numb to your vulnerability. When we are numb we have suffering, we are unhappy and we become stagnant. You know, culturally, we are taught that vulnerability is actually a negative emotion and a weakness. It would surprise you to learn that when we are vulnerable, when we embrace vulnerability, we give birth to joy, gratitude, happiness, creativity, innovation and so many more positive emotions. This was proven in Dr. Brown’s research. Do you think the Wright brothers didn’t exercise vulnerability when they declared that they were going to create a flying contraption?

So how do you embrace vulnerability? 

First, take your armor off. 

This sounds totally counter intuitive to any business book that you ever read that told you to “fake it until you make it.” In some ways that is still true but when trying to form a connection with your market this is not the approach you should take.

Take your armor off.

You will hear people say, “put your big girl or boy pants on and handle your business.” This armor protects us from being vulnerable, from showing the world who we really are. Take that armor off and build up your relationships.

Please don’t confuse this metaphorical-psychological armor for dressing for the position. It is totally cool to wear something that gives you confidence, I like to wear cheetah/leopard print but I don’t let it dictate my personality, who I am, or how I relate to others. We are in network marketing- this is all about making connections, how can you do so when you have a wall of in-authenticity between you and your target audience? Being a badass isn’t about wearing armor it is about owning who you truly are. That is the ultimate in badass-ery. 

Second, you need to learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and connection.

Live whole-heartedly. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would give to someone else. Whoa, now this is a tough one to do.

Remember earlier when I said that I put my life stories on the internet for all to “judge and hate me for it?” I said that on purpose. I wanted to show that I don’t give myself the same compassion and grace that I would give others.

I am sure that those of you who caught it thought, “Wow, really? People hate her for her blogs- she’s writing them from a place of love and caring and wants to help. Who would hate her for that?.” And, you my observant friend, are 100% correct.

So why did I say it? I said it because I wanted to illustrate that we do not give ourselves the same compassion we give to others. I am my toughest critic. No one can say anything to me that I haven’t already said to myself. It is the same reason why I used to belittle myself when I was introducing myself to someone new, I am just a mom, wife, student, legal analyst, skin care sales rep… whatever.

We need to give ourselves the same compassion we give others. I promise that when you are mindful of this line of thinking you will be happier and you will be truly authentic, and with that you will move mountains.

I say that with total certainty because I have been practicing this myself and I have seen it work. It takes a conscious effort- you have to choose to be vulnerable. You have to choose to put yourself out there. You have to choose to be the real you. 

When I agreed to do this training I went through a whole range of emotions. How can I do a training? No one wants to hear from me. I am never going to be as successful as my teammates. You’re a failure- others have been with the company in less time and are making more money than you and double, and even triple promoting in a month. How dare you do a training?

Those were my emotions talking.

I have learned that there is a time and place for my emotions because I don’t know if you know this but emotions aren’t logical and they like to create narratives in my brain to justify their irrationality. Then Logic finally showed up and was like, “Whoa, Emotions, slow your roll, she has value to offer. She has the education, the world experience, don’t forget, Emotions, in her day job, she is the number one sales manager for her company – she is very qualified. Most importantly she has the heart and she is willing to put it all on the line to help people- let her talk.

Going back to Brene Brown, she has a whole collection of books but Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, The Gifts of Imperfection, I thought it was Just Me are all great and she still has quite a few more. Also, her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top five TED talks of all time, please check her out, you will learn so much from her research.

Supermom

I have something Dark within me.

I try my best to ignore the Darkness. I tell the Darkness it has no place in my life and I remind myself of all the light I have within me. Most days that is enough to keep the Darkness from enveloping my soul.

I have battled this Darkness for 20 years and right now my resolve is wavering.

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would no longer fight this battle in silence and I started writing about it and posting it to my social media. To this day, I have kept that promise.

You see, I feel that when I publicly address my depression, I give my depression no room to hide. I force my depression out into the light where it has to answer for itself. I take away it’s power over me.

So, unlike most everyone else with a mental illness, I battle mine out loud.

One by-product of battling out loud is that I am frequently called things like “brave” or “Supermom” for choosing to speak when so many remain quiet. However, I really don’t like it. I don’t feel brave or like Supermom and I am doing this for my own selfish reasons.

I am not brave.

I am scared that the Darkness is right about me.

I am scared that I belong in the Darkness.

That I deserve the Darkness.

I am coming up on the 1 year anniversary of my life turning to shit, starting with my health, then a few hard financial blows, then my daughter developing a seizure disorder, followed up by some more hard financial blows. Currently, I am writing this from my office wrapped up in a big blanket, hot tea to the left of me as I am sick with pneumonia. What next?!

But as I sit here, and try to divine what to say, I struggle.

I am drawn to the Darkness.

I feel the pull of the void, but I won’t answer.

The Darkness grows restless inside me.

This “Supermom” feels like she is locked in a room of Kryptonite.

This false warrior is not brave at all.

My composure and my delicate grasp on my depression are falling apart. I feel like I am broken in a 100 different ways but I haven’t shattered yet… but the slightest bit of pressure will cause a collapse…

I have openly talked about my use of cannabis/CBD to treat my auto-immune disease as well as my anxiety. I definitely believe in the healing powers of cannabis. However, in this case, I waiver. I am not sure if I can get myself out of this on my own (like I have done in the past) and I don’t think there will be enough CBD to help either.

While at the doctor for my pneumonia check up, my doctor brought up that I had gained weight and that my smile didn’t touch my eyes. I told her about my life stressors and she brought up going back on Wellbutrin, an antidepressant I am very familiar with.

I accepted the prescription but I have not filled it.

Filling it would be me admitting to myself that I am not okay…

Like I am now…

I am not okay.

I have always said that I am my own worst enemy and admitting that I am not alright to you is one thing, admitting that to myself is entirely different.

I need to give myself the Grace I would give others but I am not there yet.