Taking the Armor off!

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Vulnerability has been a “hot topic” at work since we did some training a couple of years ago. In this training we had to read Daring Greatly from Brene Brown and practice “taking off the armor” and “being vulnerable”. This on its own is uncomfortable, and to do it with a group of coworkers is even worse. You are under the watchful eye of your supervisor as well as setting an example for the people you supervise so they know it’s ok to “lean into vulnerability”.

The Backstory: During my first work experience I was a junior imports buyer for a paper mill in Colombia. I was 19 years old and convinced I could do anything I wanted if I really tried. After a couple of negotiations with suppliers that treated me as a kindergartener that didn’t know what she was I went in tears to my supervisor and told him I felt really hurt and invalidated. As a 50 year old businessman he replied: “you need to act tough and show them you are in control, no crying or being a “softy”. This is when I started putting my armor up. I started being more aggressive with my proposals, doing my research and leaving meetings when I felt I was being disrespected. For the longest time I felt that I needed to prove my worth at work no matter how much experience I had and how many years had passed. This feeling of not being enough just grew as I entered a new culture, language and way of doing business when I moved to the US.

999dbcb7b18a94786167f4862f7dd641Empowering Pathways:
Due to some grant money we received as Boulder County, we designed a program for Case Managers and Workforce Staff. This program involved coaching training, motivational interviewing, positive and emotional intelligence and of course vulnerability in the form of Daring Greatly. In this book Brene describes the armor as a shield we use to “protect” who we are and what we think we need to hide from the world so we don’t get hurt.

This training came at a time in our team when a position as a supervisor had just opened and my boss asked me to apply. I had been a supervisor before for over five years and I always seem to have everything under control so she had no doubt I could do the job. In one of our sessions, we were talking about having a hard conversation and leaning into the discomfort it brings. I was paired up with a coworker and found myself just taking the whole armor off. I confessed how I felt I wasn’t good enough to be a supervisor in the US, how my english and my communication skills were not good enough and how supervising certain people could be challenging because of that.

Taking this armor off felt AMAZING! I wasn’t looking for her to reassure ma1595c281283f29e7b4ffee6c4df9eade or say that I was fully bilingual, I was just going back to that 19 year old that felt inadequate. After some coaching sessions we were able to define what was really the underlying issue that kept me from applying from the position and I was able to redo my resume, apply for the position and bring my full honest self to the interview. I was able to relate my past work experience and felt super comfortable answering the questions. Being vulnerable definitely paid off and guess what! I got the job. Thank you for taking the time to read my story! Just putting this out to the world makes me relive that moment of feeling exposed 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Taking the Armor off!

  1. This is such a good story! Something I could see in newspaper on a sunday morning or something.. simply amazing! Vulnerability in the society today has been shamed upon. If you are vulnerable you are weak now of days. This is a such a good experience you had to show that it did the complete opposite. You were vulnerable and took a chance with that, made some changes that was comfortable to you, and succeeded in the thing that you wanted. It is cool that even though you were vulnerable, it seems you never lost yourself. You never lost the part of your self that says “You can do it”. That is a really good thing to hold on to. Awesome post and awesome lesson! Congrats on the job also 🙂

  2. First off, I would like to congratulate you on getting a job that you thought you were inadequate to handle! Your story is really a great example of how being honest with yourself and getting rid of your irrational fears can really put you in a place where you thought you’d never be. I have a lot of respect for what you have been through and I wish you luck in your new job!

    – Andrew Doan

    1. Thanks Andrew 😊 I really enjoy my job and love the people I work with because we encourage each other to be authentic. Like you said, getting rid of irrational fears or beliefs that we have acquired is a hard but rewarding choice.
      Ale

  3. This is a very good post. I would like to congratulate you for getting this far! It’s always hard to get people to respect you, as well as treat like an actual person. It is nice that these lessons have helped you a lot when coming to the U.S.! My dad had a very similar type of story to yours before he immigrated to the U.S. It’s always good to have a leash on your fears, and control them. I have a lot of respect for you as an individual, and i wish you luck in your future endeavors!

    RM

    1. Thank you! It is hard being an immigrant and balancing your culture and the culture you are now in. So cool your father can share his stories with you and that you value them. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Hi,
    I am really impressed by the fact that you did what you had to to be respected in your profession. A lot of people would have just given up and walked away. Its hard in the business world to be enough for people and to please everyone. Im glad your fears did not run away with you! Way to stick to it! We should never let fear control our lives!

  5. Congratulations on getting the job! You sound like you know exactly what you want and have the capability of doing it. Just needed a little boost of confidence. I can relate to your story because my mentor at work told me recently that I should ask for a raise since my work responsibilities have exceeded that of an intern. However, I’m afraid to ask because I don’t want to be put in such a vulnerable position where my request may be turned down by the HR department. Your story encourages me to rethink otherwise.

  6. Your post really hit home for me! My sophomore year of college I was the assistant manager of the store I worked at and was younger than everyone I managed. Initially, commanding respect from them wasn’t the most difficult aspect in this scenario; like you, my issue lied more in the fact that I wasn’t confident I deserved a job of that caliber. I knew I was qualified but also like you it took me a while to comprehend I deserved it. It’s such a great moment when you finally see yourself without the skew of self doubt!

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