It’s been an inspiring few weeks working with some very ambitious people who want to make a difference with their businesses.

Throughout all these connections, the question I keep asking myself is the same:

How do we all become brilliant performers given the endless hammering of debilitating thought whacking our heads.. whack whack whack.. every second?

Big question!

I have learned so so much from my many coaching sessions. And to try to distill what’s necessary to succeed down to it’s fundamental essence is hard.

But one resounding theme keeps coming up time and time again, and that is the necessary marriage between peak performance and the power of vulnerability.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Optimal performance is intrinsically related to our ability to be vulnerable. This is the strength a person has to step outside what’s familiar and predictable, and into the unknown. When we do not know, and allow ourselves to derive energy from not knowing, we discover incredible creative power.

Yet in this age of unrelenting perfectionism and happy-speak, we are led to believe that the two don’t sit well together.

In business, we are taught to be bullet proof, never vulnerable. There is a constant pressure to never show ‘weakness’. We must win the favour of our peers. We must impress. We must jump through hoops. And we must rarely make a mistake for fear of what others might think. That mental hammer is hitting our heads but by god we must never show it.

And what happens?

We batten down the hatches and joylessly communicate from one business conversation to the next. We may hope to come across as powerful and slick, but we actually sound flat. We find ourselves talking at people rather than to them, and we fail to inspire.

The irony is that true excellence comes from letting go of what people think of us and stepping into the unknown. This is where we must embrace our vulnerability as strength. And that’s when the magic happens.

When we shed the facades of cowardice and are able to be real, we start to genuinely connect to others. We become more human and instantly more likeable. We inspire more people and attract better business opportunities. It’s our humanity that people want, not our rehearsed spiel.

So next time you pitch an idea or present your business, can you dare to peel away the corporate façade and be your natural human self? Can you bravely take a risk, drop the script and speak simply human-to-human? You still have to know your stuff, but now with the added capacity to relate. This is a rare skill these days given so many people live online and have the lost the strength of character to engage with others face-to-face.

Some of the greatest orators of all time had the power to be both vulnerable and strong, and thus relatable. They dared share a genuine dream and a heartfelt vision for the future. Martin Luther King did this. Imagine speaking with that level of passion? You could literally move an entire nation of people.

Never underestimate the power of your vulnerability.