On a personal level for me, vulnerability takes on a different dimension. Like most children and adolescents, as a youth I felt indestructible. Furthermore, most things came easily to me, whether it was making a team I wanted to be on or learning a useful skill. (An exception was school work, but I chose not to let this bother me.) Even as an 18 year old being trained in hand-to-hand combat during infantry basic training in the 1940’s, I don’t recall feelings of vulnerability. It was later in life that I gradually became risk sensitive. With maturity came an awareness that failure was possible and that is what has shaped my concept of vulnerability.
As an adult I have felt vulnerable whenever there is a chance I could fail – or perform below a largely self-defined standard. However, with this has come a realization that unless we take risks we are failing to live to our full potential. To always “play it safe” means missing opportunities to advance ourselves and others. The world would be a much poorer place had not folks been willing to “go out on a limb.” An obvious extreme example is that our country would not exist had our founding fathers not been willing to pledge “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to a cause. For most of us, the risks are usually much simpler, but the failure to take them robs progress, even if just for ourselves. In short, vulnerability is a key element of improvement.
Dr. Jack Zimmerman can be reached here for comments or feedback.
We’re honored to have his wise input on this subject.