• Ellen Cooperperson

Being Successful in Spite of Vulnerabilities

“The person who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find themselves in a place no one has been before.” Walking alone can make us vulnerable, but it can also be the path to the best version of us. Do we allow our vulnerabilities to make us weak or do we brace against the weakness to become stronger?


I am reminded of my honeymoon when I had the chance to experience Michelangelo’s David. Taking in the magnificence of that piece, just one word came to mind. Perfect. David is 9 feet tall and a beautiful specimen of human anatomy. People travel from all parts of the world to see David and many describe it as a spiritual experience.


The abundance of appreciation for David makes the story of his creation more wonderful. Imagine the large block of stone that was needed to sculpt David. The process was a huge ordeal. To find the perfect stone, it was often necessary to climb high up the mountain. On average, it took 2 years and masses of people to bring the stone down the mountain. This task was best left to experts, of which there were plenty in this particular region of Italy. However, the stone which would become David was not chiseled by an expert. The tall, 18,000 pound block of stone was considered unusable by the experts. For years and years, the block of stone remained outside, untouched by anything other than the weather. The experts believed it would be impossible to create anything from this slab. Michelangelo saw something in the stone that others did not. He took the stone out of the village square to a closed space where he could work on it. The stone had veins and flaws. Michelangelo worked with those flaws to create what would become a symbol of perfection.


David, though, is vulnerable. His ankles and foundation are weak. Tip him a mere 15 degrees and he will fall to the ground! Put pressure on areas of vulnerability and David will crack.


People are just like David. We all start out in life with flaws; with vulnerabilities. When struck in a vulnerable area, we are weakened. In 1991, there was an artist who tried to create a piece as perfect as David. Because this was his profession, his life’s work, he was vulnerable when he was unable to achieve his goals. Rather than celebrate the talents of Michelangelo, he smashed David’s left ankle to ruin the perfection.


It is often a thin line between envy/jealousy and inspiration. Do we look at other’s achievements and feel inspired or do we criticize and tear them down? People often ridicule a person who does things that are out of the norm. When their methods work, it is said to have been obvious all along.


Business is no exception. When someone takes initiative, has a differing opinion, or does something really great, some people show appreciation while others show hatred. We especially see examples of this online where anonymity fosters storms of criticism.


We have to shore ourselves up in the broken places, in the areas of our greatest weaknesses rather than pretend we are perfect. We need to build strong foundations and reduce vulnerabilities. When we are strong, we open ourselves up to be inspired. We can walk alone along a path leading to our best self.


As business leaders, we should encourage employees to recognize their vulnerabilities and help them strengthen the areas of weakness. Cooperperson Performance Consulting offers a number of programs which foster transformational change. Please call us to learn more at 631-300-3009.