Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover humility and vulnerability within the topic of communication skills at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about humility and vulnerability. Is humility a sign of weakness or is humility a sign of courage? That’s the topic of today’s video.

And for myself as a speaker, that’s what I do. And obviously if you’ve followed any of my work at all, then you know that I’m a very open communicator. I share things. I’m happy to share things. It makes me feel better about myself to know that I’ve shared both the good and the bad with my audience, whether it’s through this video or on stages. I want to be real. I want people to see what I’m working on, see the things that I’m doing and say, “You know what? He’s not pretending to be anything he’s not. He’s a real human being. It’s not perfect, but he’s learning and he’s growing along the way.” So I share things. I share stories and I tell people the things that are going on in my life that are good and I also share the things in my life that are not always going that well. My life is imperfect like everybody else’s; there’s no difference.

But the interesting thing is that after I finish speaking people come up and they want to say things. So they quite often come up and introduce themselves and it’s my favorite part of my job, actually, is to get a chance to speak with the people one-on-one who maybe were in a roomful of people earlier on where I didn’t have an opportunity to get to know them individually. But they always come back with one of two feedbacks, so I can tell right away if they’re one type of person or another type of person. And that’s what we’re talking about, by the way. We’re talking about very different types of people.

Because one type of person will come up to me constantly and say things like, “You apologize too much,” or “You put yourself down too much,” or “You’re too self-deprecating,” “Why do you do that? Why do you share that sort of information?” or “Why did you apologize for that? You should be more confident in that statement.” And then the other type of person comes up and says, “God, I can’t believe that you shared that. It touched me because I’ve experienced something similar in my own life,” or “That’s something that happened to a good friend of mine or somebody in my family.” And so you have these completely divergent responses to my way of communicating, my open communication. Some people say, “Why are you doing that? It’s wrong. It’s bad. You’re putting yourself down,” and meanwhile, other people say, “Wow, that was did. That’s what really touched me and I really appreciate that.”

And what we’re talking about in the end is connection and empathy. We as human beings, we quite often connect through struggle. When you connect only through victory, like, “Oh, I was victorious,” you’re celebrating something, it’s a lot of fun, you go out, you have a cocktail or you celebrate however it is that you celebrate, but at the end of the day there’s no real connection. You’re just sharing a joyous occasion with other people. And so maybe you have a good memory that you can think about later on, but you don’t know that person any better than you did before and they don’t necessarily know you any better than they did before. But when you connect through struggle, through things that are difficult, through things that maybe at some level you might even be embarrassed about somehow, now there’s an opportunity for connection. Now people are like, “Wow, gosh, I have felt that way myself,” or “I know just how this feels,” or “I really understand, I empathize, I have empathy.”

And let me tell you something, as an individual in my life, we all choose our lives, we can choose whatever we do and the way we communicate with other people and the people who we choose to surround ourselves with, and let me tell you something, I want to hang out with people who have empathy. I want to be understood. I want people to know who I am, know that I’m never pretending to be anything that I’m not, and I want to know them the same way that they know me. So I want to hang out with people who have empathy and who understand me and people who are willing to connect on that level.

I also think that as a leader—and let me also say by the way that there are plenty of CEOs and leaders and outstanding salespeople who just don’t think this way. They think the other way, which is “Go, go, go, be confident, don’t ever show a weakness, don’t ever let them see you cry,” or whatever, like the whole notion of “be strong in all situations.” And that’s not a bad thing. Those are very successful people. They’re doing great in their lives and they’re not going to watch this video, and if they did they would have stopped it a long time ago. But the bottom line is, there are other leaders who do have empathy and those become the leaders that people want to follow. Leadership is not about having a position of authority where people have to follow you because maybe their job is at risk if they don’t follow your leadership or they’re being paid somehow or God knows what, but leadership is about having people who want to follow you, and people want to follow people who have empathy and who are willing to connect.

So I’m very comfortable in my own humility and my own vulnerability. In fact, I believe those qualities and the way that I communicate is one of the major reasons why my career has ended up doing fairly well, because my audiences, they see that I’m just like them. I’m just like anybody else, doing the best that I can with what I have to work with. And that quality of sharing that realness, of being a real human being, an imperfect human being, makes my message that much more powerful for the people who hear it.

So don’t shy away from being humble. Don’t be embarrassed about your own humility. I believe humility is a sign of courage. I don’t believe that humility is a sign of weakness at all, and when you show some humility and someone comes up to you and believes that it was a sign of weakness, you probably don’t want to be hanging out with those people anyway. Humility is a sign of courage.

Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.