I hope you are. I am trying to be more vulnerable. When I hear the word vulnerable, the first thing that used to come to my mind is weakness. To be vulnerable and open yourself up is to be weak. I have learned that this is far from the truth. I have been reading a lot about courage and vulnerability from Brene Brown who I think is the smartest woman on the planet! She defines “vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” I relate it to cycling of course. Every time I sign up for a race I am putting myself out there. I don’t know what the outcome will be. At the start of every race I am a bundle of nerves. Crazy, negative thoughts go through my head, “I am not strong enough to do this, I haven’t trained enough, what if I crash, what if I fail, what will everyone think about me?” But then I think of everything I get to experience during a race and the accomplishment and joy I feel when I do finish something really hard. The risk is worth the reward. If we are not willing to risk being vulnerable we will never get to experience the greatest of highs and the lowest of lows.

This picture shows it all. Fear and vulnerability. Race start of Land Run 100. The guys behind me don’t seem too nervous!
Race start of DK200. Sometimes you smile when you are scared. I am a bundle of nerves! Stomach is churning, hoping I have time for one more bathroom stop. And it’s raining!

Brene Brown says that “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” I think of this every time when I see new people on the start line of a race. Or coming to a group ride. The courage it takes to show up and do something you have never done before! Not knowing how it will go, seeing other people in matching kits belonging to a team. They are certainly “Daring Greatly”, and whether they come in first or last or somewhere in the middle they have won by showing up.

One of the most amazing experiences of my life was taking a huge risk and being very vulnerable. I signed up to travel half way across the world to join Rebecca Rusch on a MTB trip to Laos. I knew no one on the trip. It was 10 days of hard riding in a row, over 500 total miles with an average daily elevation of 2,600 ft. This experience changed my life! I cannot imagine having missed out on this for fear of the unknown and not willing to put myself out there and be vulnerable. Those people I didn’t know in the beginning are my friends for life. Rebecca is a 7x world champion and best selling author. She says, “Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone can lead to great rewards. Yet trying something new or different can be intimidating. But that Risk = Reward. ” Because of this trip I learned of her Be Good Foundation which is a non profit raising money for removal of UXO’s in Laos, the people of Laos and protecting our public lands among other things. I was so inspired by this that I am now helping do things for The Be Good Foundation.

This is our first night in Laos having dinner with strangers. These people are now my good friends. I would have missed out on this for fear of being vulnerable?
Women tribe! These ladies are amazing. We have such a bond together because of this amazing experience.

On my website I talk about what is your journey? I want to help you to be vulnerable and do something you always wanted to do but maybe don’t have the courage. Sometimes all you need is a little push and a little knowledge to get over that barrier. Maybe winning for you is riding your bike alone to the grocery store on the streets with confidence. Maybe it’s finding a way to commute to work. Maybe it’s feeling confident enough to join a group ride. Maybe it’s signing up for a century ride and completing that. Maybe it’s signing up for a race. Whatever you are willing to risk- I am willing to help you get there! I want you to show up, Dare Greatly and put yourself in the arena. You will not be disappointed by the rewards.

Going to leave you with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt who talks about Daring Greatly. This was shown to me by Brene Brown and is at the core of her research on vulnerability. This embodies the essence of living life to the fullest and taking those risks so you can experience triumph and failure. More importantly it’s a lesson to me, not to be the critic but the supporter of all who put themselves out there.

4 thoughts on “Are you Vulnerable?

  1. Lucie Hasek says:

    Well said my friend! Without being vulnerable – we would not have met, and experienced this amazing journey, which I am sure has propelled us to do more – more than we would have done before. Way to go! Proud of you!

    • Karen Pritchard says:

      Exactly! we were so vulnerable out in Laos and it brought us all together. Glad to have you as a friend!

  2. Matt Morgan says:

    Karen, this is awesome. Wish I would have stumbled across it before the start line on Saturday. Perfectly describes going into La Grind after the challenging week before. Thanks for the words. Thanks for the pull back to Emporia.

    • Karen Pritchard says:

      Always a pleasure to ride with you Matt! We all can inspire each other. Some days are better than others for sure!!

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