I write two blogs – one on the fynbos (indigenous plantlife) that grows on our farm (The Fynbos Blog) and a private blog for my CEO clients on topics of leadership and life.
Never have the two crossed – indeed I retired The Fynbos Blog in early 2019 after six years of sharing the stories of my runs on the farm with our dogs, the adventures we had and the flowers we discovered.
I was recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia and my housekeeper, Louise, bought a lovely arrangement of wild flowers into my room. To my astonishment one of them was Lucospermum Lineare, a protea known as “The Vulnerable.” This rare plant is on “the red list” and close to extinction. There were a few on our farm but they were wiped out by fires in early 2017 (The Story of the Fire on the Fynbos Blog) and I was afraid we had lost them forever. Yet here it was, a delicate lovely flower giving me succour as I dosed through days of fever and recovery.
Yesterday was a clear, still day, and I walked with the dogs in search of this rare beauty. I found many of them, growing on the slope above the drive, higher up than they used to be which is why I hadn’t seen them from the road. As I walked I pondered its common name: “The Vulnerable.”
I am a fan of Brene Brown, whose academic work on vulnerability and shame has helped me to understand my own lack of confidence and why so many of my brilliant clients suffer from the same feelings, despite being outwardly confident and successful (Brene Brown Ted Talk).
We cannot succeed if we are not prepared to expose ourselves to criticism. Fear of exposure, fear of failure, these have an effect, even on those who come across to the world as bold and brave. Understanding this connection helps to create true confidence. A confidence that is linked to humility and an acceptance of our own vulnerability. Fire brought successful propagation and regrowth to our rare, delicate Lucospermum lineare. Exposing ourselves to the fire of public criticism, whether in sport or in business is the only way to succeed, learn and grow. Fire and criticism are both terrifying, yet once through the flames we build confidence and grow stronger. Every time.