Respond to vulnerability with vulnerability

Mike Crittenden
2 min readNov 5, 2020


Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

If you’ve never seen that classic video narrated by Derek Sivers, watch it now.

There’s a lesson here for teams. We should strive to respond to vulnerability with vulnerability.

If you can’t be the first person to be vulnerable, then always, always, always be the second. If you don’t want to be the leader, then be the first follower. Be the person that turns the vulnerable lone nut into a vulnerability movement in your team.

Here’s a quote from The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle:

[…] Polzer points out that vulnerability is less about the sender than the receiver. “The second person is the key,” he says. “Do they pick it up and reveal their own weaknesses, or do they cover up and pretend they don’t have any? It makes a huge difference in the outcome.”

Polzer has become skilled at spotting the moment when the signal travels through the group. “You can actually see the people relax and connect and start to trust. The group picks up the idea and says, ‘Okay, this is the mode we’re going to be in,’ and it starts behaving along those lines, according to the norm that it’s okay to admit weakness and help each other.”

Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code

Being vulnerable is scary. Really freaking scary. A vulnerable moment can lead to incredible awkwardness, or it can change everything.

But vulnerability is “less about the sender than the receiver.” If it’s awkward, that’s not the sender’s fault. It’s the receiver’s fault.

The first vulnerable person is giving the team an opportunity for an amazing event. Will you leave that opportunity on the table, or turn it into a movement? Will you choose to be uncomfortable by not participating, or become the first follower?

Originally published at on November 5, 2020.