“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ― Criss Jami

I was having a conversation today with a man who has had an indescribable impact on my life. He inspired my passion for health and fitness several years ago and has been a source of unbending encouragement and wisdom since. This particular nugget of wisdom came as both a welcome surprise and a compliment of the highest regard in my own mind. 
We were discussing life lessons and the subject was vulnerability. The concept in question is that those who are the most vulnerable are the strongest. They are not restricted by self imposed fear and doubt. They go 'all in' on life and understand that the only way to win big is to take big risks sometimes. Now do not get the wrong idea here. Taking risks is not the same as being reckless. Common sense, as uncommon as it may be, is an important factor in risk taking as long as it does not overpower your instincts. Learn to trust your instincts. Because Mr. Barrie had it right when he said "all you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust". 
Now according to my inspirational source, this is something I apparently 'have down quite well'. My family and friends will vouch for me when I say that I am never content. I appreciate everything that has blessed my life but I am constantly striving for the next level. I distinctly remember the day one of my 'friends' told me that my dream to be a Disney Imagineer was childish, unreachable, and stupid. I might as well have told him my life goal was to become a rainbow unicorn that pooped cotton candy. It was that same day I realized I am very different from those around me. In my mind there is NOTHING that I cannot achieve once I set my mind to it. I am too determined to fail. I do not wait for opportunity to come knocking at my door. When I decide that I want something I go for it even if the odds are against me. I have no regard for failure. Failure is simply an opportunity to take a different direction. 
That is vulnerability. I put my whole mind, heart, and soul into everything I do. I share my experiences with the people around me in hopes that they can be inspired and educated by my successes and my failures. But as the world must have balance, my openness, positive outlook, and trust in humanity leaves me vulnerable to a great deal of negative energy. Just like everyone else, I am not made of stone. I have weaknesses. In fighting I have learned that weakness is something you embrace not ignore. If you recognize your weaknesses you can use your strengths to overcome them. The same principle applies in life. Sometimes people take advantage of your weaknesses in order to make you an object of their criticism. They play on your vulnerability. In my experience, those who criticize you are those who are envious because you embody qualities which they so desperately want in their own lives. The key is to not to let these people get you down, but reach down and try to help them up. Therein lies the strength. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Identify your weaknesses and fears and use them as a source of inspiration and determination. Kick doubt, self consciousness, fear of failure, and the criticism of others in the face. Set a new standard for yourself. Take risks. Dream big, Exceed your own expectations and achieve your personal greatness, WHATEVER that may be.