Why do you avoid vulnerability?

Tiffany takes to the mic in her first solo show of the season, a new format where it’s just Tiffany and the mic—no prompt, no producer, all her. In this episode, Tiffany is reflecting on vulnerability and how she’s found an unexpected connection between fear and vulnerability in her own life.

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“Fear is trying to keep us from being vulnerable because when we're vulnerable, that's actually when we reveal our gifts.”

Tiffany takes to the mic in her first solo show of the season, a new format where it’s just Tiffany and the mic—no prompt, no producer, all her.

In this episode, Tiffany is reflecting on vulnerability and how she’s found an unexpected connection between fear and vulnerability in her own life.

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Tiffany Sauder: Okay, here we go. I'm a small-town kid, born with a big-city spirit. I choose to play a lot of awesome roles in life. Mom, wife, entrepreneur, CEO, board member, investor, and mentor. 17 years ago I founded a marketing consultancy and ever since. My husband, JR. And I have been building our careers and our family on the exact same timeline.

Yep. That means four kids, three businesses, two careers, all building towards one life. We love. When I discovered I could purposefully embrace all of these ands in my life, it unlocked my world, and I want that for you too. I'm Tiffany Sauder, and this is Scared Confident.

We've done like maybe 150 ish episodes, but this is episode number one. When it comes to solo show style, like what's a solo show? You're probably asking me. It's like where I just literally jump on the microphone and talk and I share what's on my mind. I share what's on my heart, I share what I'm thinking about.

Usually I have a producer prompting me with questions, or I'm answering a question that a listener has sent in. And so that's sort of my guide. But in this kind of free fall, Form of content, it really is just exporting and giving me a chance to discover what it is them seeing and what it is that I'm thinking about.

So, I'm feeling a little anxious actually. And, uh, I know that because I did about 55 things to avoid pushing record, you know, I was like, Oh, my lips are tapped. I need some chapstick. Oh, I'm kind of thirsty. I need some water. Even thought about like changing my pants, they feel kind of tight. . I got my car washed.

Uh, I had to go pick up a kid. I was like, Why don't I wash my car? So, um, definitely a sign for me when I. Distracting myself with a bunch of tasks that fears kind of having me walk around this like moment of vulnerability and just jumping on the microphone and pushing record. So I feel like I'm like putting my goggles down, tightening my speedo, and like jumping in the pool.

And, um, so we're doing it together. So what I wanna talk about is actually this concept of vulnerability. Like it's obviously a through line in just who I am as a person. It's a really big piece. And if there's one. Thing that I could inject my kids with, it would be the ability to be vulnerable because I've just found it to be such a powerful piece of relationship and discovering truth.

And I've just really been setting my mind on this concept lately, and I was looking at like, what's the definition of vulnerability? Cuz I do think there's like several different angles to it. But for me it's putting yourself into a place where you have the risk of an unknown outcome. Like, Hey, I'm just gonna ask the question.

I'm just gonna say, you know, yes to the project or whatever it is, and putting yourself in a place where you're exposed to an unknown outcome, an unknown end, that is really, to me, what I mean by vulnerability is that you're saying like, I'm not gonna try to control the outcome of this. I'm actually gonna put like all my cards on the table and see where it takes me.

That's what I think about when I think about this. Way of living, this way of being and being vulnerable. And I put a question on LinkedIn, I dunno, a week or two ago, and I asked the question, what keeps you from being vulnerable in relationships? Just wanting to get a pulse of like, what do other people think about this?

In a fascinating trend emerged for me cuz I'm a synthesizer. What percentage of comments do you think mentioned the word fear? So there was about, I think, 30 unique comments, something like that. What percentage do you think mentioned the word fear? And this was not what I was fishing for. Okay. Think like give yourself a number.

What do you think? Say it out loud so that you're not copying mine. , what percentage do you think? 50%. 50% of people, when I ask the question, what is standing in your way of being vulnerable in relationships? 50% use the word fear. some way in describing what keeps them back. Isn't that fascinating? Cause I'm beginning to like see in a lot of ways, for me, vulnerability is like an antidote to fear.

When I speak out loud, the thing that is trying to hold me back, like even me starting out this episode and saying, I can tell fear you're trying to like, keep me down. Keep me away from this episode because I'm just getting so distracted with all these things that flat don't matter. Know that that's fear, like diverting my energy and attention and just like walking around doing this pushing record, saying it out loud.

I even said it to myself like all my word, I'm doing the thing, I'm distracting myself with tasks. And so I think that's so interesting. Fear is trying to keep us from being vulnerable because when we're vulnerable, that's actually when we reveal our gifts, we get to true relationship and all these kinds of things start to happen for us.

I think that that, that was so fascinating. I'll read to you a couple of the things that people said. So what do they say with fear? Fear of rejection, fear of failing to meet people's expectations. Fear of judgment. Um, fear of it not being reciprocated. Fear of things being used against me later on if I share.

Like, that's interesting, like somebody's gonna bring it back later. Fear of being judged was one fear of not being taken seriously. Fear of rejection was another one. Fear of rejection of others. I think that's so interesting that when asked, why are we not vulnerable? 50% of the people use the word fear to describe the way that they think about what it would feel like to be vulnerable, and yet I believe vulnerability is actually the antidote to fear.

So that's an observation. Something I'm just like putting my mind on a lot right now. The other thing that is interesting, to me. I was speaking last night and this re like reciprocity thing came up again there. So one of the questions that was asked, and it was kind of brought up, and one of the comments that somebody left was like, I'm afraid that if I'm vulnerable, the other person is not gonna match me.

And last night it sounded like, Hey, I'm afraid that if I show up vulnerable, the other person just sort of looks like you have a hole in your head. Um, And I think that's interesting because most people listening to this podcast, they're like leaders, achievers, mold breakers, rule breakers, you know, people who are like out front in life.

And I think it's so interesting that on this topic of vulnerability, suddenly everybody's afraid of not fitting in. Isn't that strange? And I was thinking like, well, what are the other things I've done in life where I just don't care if the other person doesn't match me? I mean, that's like silly. I'm thinking of things like if everybody at the table orders junk food and you order healthy food, who cares?

If everybody at a party is dressed casual and you dressed up, who cares? I think this idea of fitting in and doing what everybody else is doing is actually very little how most of us think and behave. But when it comes to this idea of vulnerability, we're so afraid that it's not gonna be mirrored.

That's not gonna be. Reciprocated that it's not gonna be met with an equal level of like excitement to engage at that level, and I understand that. at face value, but who wants the same outcomes as the person that you're talking to? You know what I mean? It's like if you want richer relationships than the average, you have to engage at a more vulnerable level than the average.

If you want a better relationship with your spouse, then the average, then you have to invest more deeply and intentionally in that relationship than the average. Like if you wanna go deeper, if you wanna go to a different, You actually have to step into a place. Other people don't walk. That's the point of the whole thing, is to take a risk.

And I don't know, I would say I lean vulnerable naturally. My husband says I'm a blur. Like literally I think it, and I say it in like the same motion, and so that makes me like a blur. Like I just literally say whatever. I think I'm getting a little better at my old age. Um, so I think I'm naturally wired to be vulnerable.

I think that as I've aged and realized the power of it, I step into it even more intentionally. But in the years I've been living vulnerably, the years that I've been trying to ask the real question of people's lives at networking events and actually get to a place where we're talking about something that matters.

0% of the time have I been looked at, like I had a horn coming outta my head because actually everybody wants to be cared about. That's actually the case. I, I've been around people that feel very walled off from a distance. They seem very successful and scary from a distance. They seem like they couldn't possibly need.

Anything from me. And when you like sit and actually patiently ask them about their life and what they care about and where they're from and you know what they hope their kids learn from them and what's really going on and where are they struggling and where are they winning. When you actually stop and ask those questions from a place of like authenticity and like vulnerably sitting there and saying like, Hey, what's going on in your life?

And you patiently wait for the answer, we're all dying to be seen. In our lives, we're all dying to have, I think, rich relationships and those that aren't dying to be seen that way, they're actually the ones that are hurting the hardest because they're not at a place in a space where they can afford to be seen.

Because if they are, they'll just like break and aren't those the ones that we actually need to be the most patient with? I was there in seasons. Was like everything was fine. I was moving at such a fast pace. Nobody could slow the car down and see that like I was secretly terrified. But those who like actually stopped and saw my soul and spoken to me had a huge impact on my life and began to give me permission to live in a way that was different because I had such respect for the fact that they just stopped the conversation and asked me how are things really going?

That like triggered a memory for me. Mike Bergoff, who's like a, he's like a giant in Indiana. He's the head of the board of trustees at Purdue University and he's this amazing businessman and just like vivacious individual. And I was maybe three years into the journey Element three like such. A baby, and I was pitching him and he took the meeting with me only because my uncle was like fraternity brothers with him at Purdue.

Like, not because I had any shred of credibility on the planet. I full on didn't. And Mike took a meeting with me and I was probably talking way too much about why he should buy a website or something silly like that. I remember he had this like really big architect desk that I just, in my head was like made out of like mahogany from South Africa or something.

It was like, seemed so nice compared to my IKEA laden office at the time, and he said, Hey, before you leave, how are things going? I was like, Oh, they're so, they're going great. I said something like very, he's like, No, like really? How are things going? You're a young woman just getting started, starting a business.

How are things going? And I was like, Things are great. And like asked me a third time like, Well, how are, but how are things going? Like, I'm sure there's something that's hard. It's never easy at the beginning. And I felt like I had permission to tell him. Something wasn't right and it was gonna be met with like, Well, let's talk about who I know that can help you or how we can solve it together.

Or if I have some experience, and I was like, What? I've never had an interaction like this. I've never had a prospect actually asking me and be interested in how I was doing and how he could help me. And it was so impactful for me and he was realizing he didn't say the words, You're not being vulnerable.

There's no way things are great because things are, first of all, never perfect when you're in business. Second of all, in the first five years, they're really never perfect and he knew I was hiding my actual cards and his persistence got me to the place where I could ask him a real question and like a decade later.

I end up circling back with him and I just, it was like so impactful, and that's what I mean by vulnerability. I was not meeting him at that level because I was too afraid to admit to a prospect that I was trying to impress that things actually weren't perfect. That's what I was trying to cover up. It wasn't that I didn't know how to be vulnerable.

Well, I would say I actually didn't know how to be vulnerable. His persistence was just like such a gift. So, you know, when we talk about we're afraid of being met, he had no insecurity in that conversation. He was showing up as a full human saying, Hey, my job in life is just to help people. And icu, you're a young entrepreneur.

How can I help you? And in his persistence of his questions, he was trying to build a bridge and I was too afraid to show my cards. , I was not showing up as a whole human. I was showing up as a very guarded one. And so it took me lots of tries to be able to show up in that environment where I could actually say like something that was halfway true.

And I remember actually leaving that meeting and being like, I kind of blew it actually, because I didn't know what to ask him for because I didn't allow my head to inventory all the things that needed to be fixed. And so, , all I carried around in my head was the things that I thought were great about Element three, and I was like, from then on, I was like, I'm always gonna have something in my head that I'm working on intentionally.

So if somebody asked me what's going on or what's going wrong, I can tell them and that maybe can actually help me solve that thing. I was like, I'm gonna purposely file away. This is something I'm stuck on and be at the ready so that next time I'm asked, I can be more vulnerable and they can actually maybe help me.

So, I don't know, we just sort of went the long way around the horn there on that. But I just think this idea of vulnerability is more complex as I think about it longer than it was at face value for me. But I do think it comes from just practicing it and saying like, deciding is this how you're gonna live?

And if it is, Where and how do you start? And I also talked about this last night where somebody's like, How do you start? And I was like, Well, it's like one of those things that you can't be vulnerable in your head. It actually has to like come out of your face. Like you have to actually say the words.

You can't just think it, you don't get to like do that. Um, you have to really ship it and actually say it. And it's very awkward at the beginning if you're not used to that. And people aren't socially. used to you being vulnerable or you being open. And so one of the hacks that I've done is, which people kind of expect it from me now, um, but at the beginning is just like, Hey, can I just share something vulnerably with you?

Or, Hey, I'm gonna be vulnerable. Is that all right? You're kind of like soft launching , the fact that you're gonna hard launch a bomb potentially, or you're just warming the audience up to like, Hey, I might say something that's gonna be surprising to you. And then your listener is kind of ready, I guess maybe the call to action is maybe this week one time you'll try stepping into vulnerability instead of like staying on your island of safety and not opening your mouth or not.

I don't know, sending the thing, I don't know. I feel like maybe emails are not the best for vulnerability or slack messages. I do think face to face and phone calls is probably the best. Um, but like one time maybe you try it and see if your fear that it won't be reciprocated is actually unfounded. And the truth of it is that it's met with a very authentic engagement and you learn something important about someone where they need to be supported.

You can help them. Maybe that's the takeaway for today. Thank you for joining me in another episode of Scared Confident. Until next time, keep telling fear. You will not decide what happens in my life. I will.

Alright, first one's done. Boom.

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