What transpired was fascinating. A roomful of astonishingly accomplished people were, with one stroke, stripped of all but the simplest of tools: the moment. In the moment, no one can rely on technique or equipment; in the moment, all that exists is trust and vulnerability. The chances of feeling foolish were high; taking that first step terrifying. And, once you’d done it, it was exhilarating, not to mention addictive: you wanted more and more of it.
For me, regularly taking those emotional risks is more important than taking on the occasionally risky—or even very risky—personal or work project. Opening myself up and connecting in small ways with strangers (even “strangers” in a networking situation) or sharing something on my blog that doesn’t reveal me to be the superstar I am in my dreams helps build that vulnerability muscle, and that allows me to be more creative in all moments. If I practice in low-stakes environments, I’ll be better able to speak my truth or access my creativity in stressful, high-stakes situations.
If you’re looking for a little reinforcement in the vulnerability area, I recommend social scientist Brené Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly. If you enjoyed her famous TED talks on vulnerabilityand shame, you’ll love this research-backed explanation of why we fear looking foolish (a fear on the rise for quantifiable reasons), and also why taking that risk leads to our salvation, both creatively and personally.