I’ve been living with vertigo for the past nine years. Early in my journey, I had to tell potential clients I looked drunk, even though I wasn’t drunk. I explained I had vertigo.

The first time I explained, my client said, “Oh, okay.” That was that.

I’d expected questions. Nope. I’d expected concern. Nope. I didn’t expect acceptance. And, that’s what I got.

I was surprised, gratified, and a little bit abashed. Was I ashamed of myself? A little. Why didn’t I expect more of people? Why did I think they would look down on me for something that wasn’t my fault, something I couldn’t do anything about?

I couldn’t not have vertigo. I had it. The question was: how was I going to discuss it?

My vertigo got worse—a cane wasn’t enough. I now use a rollator (4-wheeled walker). I love the rollator and can walk pretty fast with it, because I’m not worried about falling over.

Now, I tell people I look like a little old lady (LOL) because of the rollator. I don’t feel like a little old lady—and I don’t talk or write like one—but I look like a LOL.

How did I find the courage to talk about my handicap like this? Well, I suspect it helps if you’re an extrovert and can’t stop words from coming out of your mouth. I rarely know what I’m going to say until I actually say the words.

I asked myself these questions:

  1. What’s the worst thing that would happen? A client would fire me? That hasn’t happened yet.
  2. Could I see the humor in the situation? Maybe a sense of humor could ease the way.
  3. Could I connect with people as I explained? I’m surprised by the number of people I meet who either have vertigo, have had it, or have a relative with it. These people relate to my situation.

Our connections with other people might be our greatest superpower. When we extend the gift of vulnerability, and asking for help, we enlist the other person to work with us at a deep level.

It takes courage to be vulnerable.

I don’t believe in blind courage. For me, real courage is about seeing the reality, generating an option, taking a small step and seeing where that step takes me. 

I still say these words such as "I can't," "I'm not sure," and "That's not me," especially when I’m afraid or tired. When we say these words, we give words power. Maybe it’s time to discuss things so we can take back out power to live our greatest lives.

I'm working on asking for help or support instead:

  • Here's one way I can start.
  • I need help with ...
  • I hadn't thought of that yet. Let me figure out a way to start...

What do you want to discuss and with whom? I don’t share everything with everyone. I do try to limit the undiscussable ideas.

Words have power—sometimes, extraordinary power. When we verbalize these ideas, we remove their power. And, we’re left with the reality. To be honest, I would much rather deal with reality than Fear Expressed As Reality (See When Do You Suffer from FEAR?)

See if you can discover enough courage to be vulnerable and connect with others. When we say the words, we remove the power of what’s un-discussable for each of us.

Learn with Johanna

Gil Broza and are offering the Influential Agile Leader Workshop in April 2019, in Toronto. If you are part of an agile transformation, please do join us.

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Till next time,

Johanna

© 2019 Johanna Rothman

P.S. Yes, I've changed email providers again. Sigh. However, you should be able to manage your preferences much better.