February 17, 2020

Vulnerability | Empathy | Grit | Focus

Core Values are wayfinding tools. Navigating the world, professionally or personally, is a challenge. We are faced with many decisions every day—big and small. Having a profound understanding of your core values makes navigating a little easier.

These are mine.


This was a life-changer. It went against everything I intuitively understood about strength and progress. Vulnerability is the single most useful guiding principle that I practice—if I'm not being vulnerable, I'm not making good work.

"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not a weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."
-Dr. Brené Brown


While Vulnerability can be a difficult practice, empathy comes naturally to me. Enacting empathy can be more challenging. Checking my actions against this value means that I'm asking myself, "am I being generous with another's personhood?"

"Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It's simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of 'you're not alone.'"
-Dr. Brené Brown


Once I may have considered vulnerability/empathy to be a foil to grit. Now, I understand that all three share an important intensity of progress. Grit is the energy of moving forward, and vulnerability is steering the ship.

"To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight."
-Angela Duckworth.


It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the interesting projects, stories, journeys, etc. that I am lucky enough to have encountered. Focus is easily the most challenging value that I wrestle with. Without focus, I cannot make progress.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are."
-Steve Jobs