There’s a prevalent misconception in Western society that force and power are the same thing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, true power comes from vulnerability.
My buddy Mark Mason, an expert in the field of dating and attraction has been advocating for years that the most attractive thing to a woman is not dominance, but rather self-assured vulnerability.
He uses the word ‘vulnerability’ in a particular way:
In other words, ‘vulnerability’ means being willing to take risks, especially emotional ones like risking embarrassment, shame, rejection or disappointment.
It’s a counter-intuitive point of view, but it makes sense when you really think about it.
Think of it this way, there are two men. One stands tall, looks straight ahead. Looks people in the eye when he speaks to them. Says what he thinks and is unconcerned with what others think of him. When he makes a mistake, he shrugs it off and apologizes. When he sucks at something, he admits it. He’s unafraid to express his emotions, even if that means he gets rejected. He has no problem moving on to people who don’t reject him, but like him for who he is.
Now, the second man hunches over, his eyes dart around and is unable to look someone in the eye without getting uncomfortable. He puts on a cool persona that is always aloof. He avoids saying things that may upset others, and sometimes even lies to avoid conflict. He’s always trying to impress people. When he makes a mistake, he tries to blame others or pretend like it didn’t happen. He hides his emotions and will smile and tell everyone he’s fine even when he’s not. He’s scared to death of rejection. And when he is rejected, it sends him reeling, angry, and desperate to find a way to win back the affection of the person who doesn’t like him.
Which one of these two men is more powerful? Which one is more vulnerable? Which one is more comfortable with himself? Which one do you think women would be more attracted to?
Yes indeed. The man who has the courage and strength to be vulnerable will be more attractive.
Mark Manson’s focus was on power and vulnerability for men, but what about women? Surely for a woman to be powerful in today’s male-dominated society, she has to be more masculine and forceful right?
A Tale Of Two Female CEOs
In January, 2009, Carol Bartz was named CEO of Yahoo! In an investor call she proclaimed her intention to get Yahoo! “some friggin’ breathing room” so the company could “kick some butt.” Bartz brutally upended the company and her authoritarian style, including canceled holiday parties and forced vacations, spread fear and uncertainty. She was renowned for being rough and secretive. Bartz was quoted as saying she would “drop-kick to fucking Mars” employees who leak to the press.
Unable to forge relationships with the board or staff, Bartz was let go in September, 2011. In her inimitable, confrontational style, Bartz sent one last email to the entire company saying that she had been fired in a dismissive phone call from the board. It was her last ‘fuck you’ to the board of directors she had failed to gel with.
During her reign Yahoo! stock languished at under $20 per share.
A female friend of mine said that she admired Bartz for her strength, and defended her rough behavior, saying she had to be extra tough in order to succeed in a male dominated world.
In July, 2012, Marissa Mayer was appointed President and CEO of Yahoo!
Marissa is smiley, affable and builds relationships quickly. She’s also driven and has incredibly high expectations of her staff. Rather than bending the organization to her will, she engages people in problem solving, compelled by her vision for the company. She invests heavily in people development.
Marissa is known as a Silicon Valley fashionista and was pictured on the cover of Vogue Magazine in September, 2013.
In 2013, Mayer ranked 32 in the Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is the first woman listed as number one on Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the top 40 business stars under 40 years old.
Over the 14 months since Mayer’s appointment Yahoo’s stock price has more than doubled.
Marissa Mayer is not particularly forceful, but she is extraordinarily powerful.
What usually passes for power in our society is actually fear and insecurity dressed up in wolf’s clothing.
This guy might look ‘tough’ but how insecure must he be to feel compelled to pump his body full of harmful steroids and work his muscles into such grotesque form? I keep looking at this image to decide if it’s Photoshopped, but I think it’s actually real!
Instead of dealing with his fears and insecurities he’s put on a protective cloak of muscle. No one will ever see his insecurities, but they are there, hidden from public view and probably hidden even from himself.
I’ll put it bluntly: When we feel the need to act tough, it’s because we feel weak and insecure.
The Power Of Vulnerability
True power comes when we feel secure and confident enough to let our guard down.
When we don’t need to defend ourselves, when we don’t need to hide, when we don’t need to protect ourselves – that’s when we can be perceived as being powerful.
But there’s one more twist to the story. It’s not enough just to be vulnerable. There are plenty of weak, vulnerable people in the world.
The second secret ingredient is to also be self-confident and adopt powerful body language.
When we have both vulnerable and powerful body language, that’s when others really notice!
It’s also the only way we can experience power and self-confidence in our internal sense of ourselves.
In The Body Language Of True Power, I reveal the biggest mistake ‘experts’ make about powerful body language and show you what true power really looks like.
If you would like to experience true power and self-confidence, use this guided meditation to build it: Develop Powerful Body Language.
Here’s to your true power!