Being a curious person, I ask a million questions. At dinner parties, a guy I used to date would say, "Stephanie's around here somewhere, you can't miss her - she's the one asking questions." It was a running joke.
The questions really never end. Some questions keep me awake at night, "does the Zero Point Field really exist?" and some are fleeting, "what would I look like with a shaved head?" and every question in between.
I saw an acquaintance over the weekend and asked what she's up to - she replied "I'm going to jump out of a plane this weekend!" to which I replied, "Oh that will be so much fun!" We were talking about the experience of skydiving and she mentioned how nervous she was and how great she's going to feel afterward.
I was relaying the story to another person that weekend, and that friend mentioned that she would never skydive. She would be way too nervous - no way, no how. "How could you possibly do that?!" she asked.
"I wasn't nervous at all! Even my tandem instructor commented on how calm I was. No big deal. Tons of fun." I said.
"Huh. Well what DOES make you nervous?" she said with eyes huge.
"Uh… well…. saying I Love You, I guess." I spit out. Then I started to sweat. And then I said I had to run to the bathroom. I excused myself from the conversation faster than if I had just jumped out of a plane.
This question has been weighing on my mind for over a year now, recently more than ever. Her question triggered me to say it outloud, which I had been resisting for over 12 months. But really, how is it possible that I have zero fear speaking on stage, or jumping out of a plane, or making an unreasonable request - but I'm terrified of being vulnerable?!?
I'm getting to my point… I promise.
I got to hear Brene Brown speak last summer at the Inc Grow Conference, and her definition of what vulnerability really meant (bravery) was so powerful to me. As a result of her message, I've sat with the question, "Why haven't I ever said 'I Love You' first?" I've felt very ashamed about it. How brave of the people who have said it to me, and how weak of me not to.
This one question has really haunted me for a long time and I was triggered by the contrast of jumping out of a plane to saying 'I Love You' first. For most, jumping out of a plane is much more terrifying, but to me, being vulnerable is much scarier.
So in the spirit of asking questions: If we aren't being vulnerable (AKA: BRAVE) and asking quality questions, how can we have quality lives? Being vulnerable in your question asking isn't only for your personal life, this goes for your business too. How can you have a quality business, if you aren't brave enough to ask the quality questions?
QUALITY + BRAVERY
"Why haven't I REALLY started my business?"
"Why do I hesitate?"
"Am I being a good leader?"
"Am I supporting my team?"
"Am I really serving my customer?"
"How will being transparent help me better engage with my audience?"
"Am I afraid of success?"
"Do I feel supported in my business by my family?"
"Why did they cancel?"
"Why did my partnership dissolve?"
"Why am I not making money?"
"Why do I feel guilty about making this much money?"
"Am I satisfied in what I'm doing?"
"Am I solving a real problem?"
Vulnerability has a place in your business because being vulnerable is being BRAVE. Brave enough to ask the tough questions, the quality questions. Brave enough to try a new direction, new vertical, new marketing message. Brave enough to hear the criticism. Brave enough to feel embarrassed if someone thinks your ideas are crap. Brave enough to put your reputation on the line for your ideas. Brave enough to make money. Brave enough to be successful. Brave enough to pivot. Brave enough to move on. Brave enough to START.
Go ask the quality questions.
"I wanna see you be brave." - Sara Bareilles
I love you… first.