Why vulnerability is incredibly scary, but vital for building resilience and real connections

Andrew Spurrier-Dawes explains why getting comfortable with vulnerability is important both in life and in business

Andrew Spurrier-Dawes

EMEA Head of Precision Wavemaker


I love a Louis Theroux documentary. Yes, his style is love-it-or-hate-it, but the communities he speaks to are extreme, incredibly interesting and all revolve around an imbalance in one of three basic human needs; the need to be a part of something; the need to feel power; and the need to be loved.

All the people he speaks to are all deeply lacking in one of these areas; UFO believers and the need to feel control of their environment; swingers seek the need to feel connection; and nationalists crave the need to feel a part of something.

The reason these shows are so interesting to us is that a little bit of their vulnerability lives in all of us. It is within us to feel unloved, a lack of connection and a lack of community. Everyone has vulnerabilities, it is just human.

You are not perfect, your CEO isn’t perfect, I am not perfect, and we will never be perfect. Accepting this is hard.

Andrew Spurrier-Dawes, EMEA Head of Precision, Wavemaker

We have all worked with people who have reacted in the extreme to their vulnerabilities. I remember finding out someone I worked with, who was aggressive and uncompassionate in how they dealt with people was actually the loveliest, gentlest, nicest, emotionally sensitive person outside of work. They saw their humanity as vulnerability and over compensated. Extreme behaviours in the workplace are almost always over-compensating for perceived vulnerabilities.

We all have them. My way of dealing with vulnerability is to be totally, disarmingly open and to try everything. I will answer any question you have for me, and I am not afraid to talk about my problems and weaknesses. This makes me feel like I do not have as many vulnerabilities as other people because I think I do not hide as much as other people. Similarly, if I know everything, you won’t think I am stupid, which is something that cuts to my soul.

I am obviously, catastrophically, unhealthily, sadly, wrong. Hiding my vulnerabilities increases my resilience, but resilience isn’t healing or growth.

But then on the flip side, we all need a work persona, a face we put on. None of us are exactly who we are at home in the workplace because we comply with levels of professionalism for the sake of the job today and the job in the future. This is not a problem. However, I believe the distance in between your work face and who you are when you feel safe and open is the path to understanding your vulnerability and exhaustion. Keeping up a face is hard work, especially when you are trying to compensate for what you see as weaknesses and trying to be perfect. You are not perfect, your CEO isn’t perfect, I am not perfect, and we will never be perfect. Accepting this is hard.

For me, it means I cannot know everything, and I cannot be invulnerable, so how can I build meaningful, understanding connections with people, belong to a community or hold any sort of influence if I do not let myself be open, exposed and ask for help?

I am awful at asking for help. I’ve also not had the best mental health for as long as I can remember, and it took the behaviours I developed from a recent deeply traumatic event to finally understand that I was desperately unhealthy and needed help.

Struggling with mental wellness is like having a bad toothache, everything you do is done in the context of your pain; how do I get out of this situation so I can get some relief? How do I make it stop? How soon can I go to sleep so I can avoid being awake with this pain? How can I change or control my environment to reduce the suffering? How can I hide it from everyone else? How can I hide from everyone else?

The fantastic news is everyone is the same. We are all on a mental health journey, in the same way we are on a physical health journey and there is loads of help.

Firstly, I am here. Anytime you want to chat, I am here for you, just find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Your friends, if they are friends, want to listen. Your partner wants to help. There is professional help on the NHS or privately which is designed to help. There are charities and industry bodies that are there to help.

But the first step comes from within. Recognising that wanting help isn’t weakness, it is something that we all need. Then having the courage to ask for help. Maybe that is the greatest vulnerability of all.

Guest Author

Andrew Spurrier-Dawes

EMEA Head of Precision Wavemaker


Andrew Spurrier-Dawes joined Wavemaker in August 2021 as Head of Precision for EMEA to build the digital excellence in the region. As part of Wavemaker’s Consulting Hub and based in London, he covers all aspects of digital for the teams, with a focus on data, measurement, tech, ecom, biddable, content and our internal products, with a view from the strategy to the execution. Previously, he was at MediaCom as the global digital lead for Mars and GSK, as well as the UK lead for the UK MCM business flagship accounts such as Sky and Tesco.

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Mental Health