Everywhere you’ve been this summer – road trips, the mall, movie theaters, sports stadiums – you’ve probably heard these words…”This is my fight song, take-back-my-life song, prove-I’m-alright song!”
These lyrics form the chorus of Rachel Platten’s hit single, Fight Song.
While you may know the lyrics, you probably do not know story behind them. In 2011, Platten released her first “hit” single, 1000 Ships. But she crashed in the following months. In her own words, Rachel said, “That single did make a little blip, and that was cool, but after that, things quickly dissolved. I lost my manager, I lost my label, I lost a lot of my support, and I was kind of left just trying to survey what was going on in my career and wondering if I was even going to try to continue.”
After hitting rock bottom, she was challenged by her future manager to begin writing her own songs, instead of singing other people’s. “Even though I had songs that were reaching people, I had never really learned how to tell my own story. So that’s what I did for two years, I just wrote and wrote and wrote, and it wasn’t until recently that I finally started experiencing the fruit of all of that labor.”
“Fight Song” emerged from that season, with massive success, topping the Billboard charts. The song marked a new direction for Platten, not only in terms of success but in terms of transparency too. In the same interview mentioned above, Platten said, “I’d never written a song that felt so clearly honest and told my story with both vulnerability and power. I’m really proud of it and I hope I can match that with the rest of the material that I’ve been writing for my next album.”
What Can We Learn From Fight Song?
When I first heard the backstory of Fight Song, I was intrigued and moved. The story of recovering success after failure was compelling. But even more compelling were Platten’s comments that the success of the song came from her vulnerability in writing it.
As I read that interview, I wondered, “Have I been missing out on success and connection because I’m holding back?”
For Rachel, the gap between her failure and success was narrowed with hard work and vulnerability. When she created out of the raw places of struggle, she found a new power and her audience responded in an incredible way.
Many of us (I’m guessing most of us) struggle with and avoid vulnerability. We share photos of our fancy dinner on Instagram or a great selfie with friends on Facebook. But sharing (and over-sharing) doesn’t equate with vulnerability.
True vulnerability terrifies us.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown shares what she learned during a particular presentation.
“During my talk, I asked the audience two questions that reveal so much about the many paradoxes that define vulnerability. First I asked, ‘How many of you struggle to be vulnerable because you think of vulnerability as weakness?’ Hands shot up across the room. Then I asked, ‘When you watched people on this stage being vulnerable, how many of you thought it was courageous?’ Again, hands shot up across the room…(The paradox is) I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me. I’m drawn to your vulnerability and repelled by mine.”
Those final two sentences sum up our struggle with vulnerability. When other people share vulnerably, we admire them and call them “courageous.” When faced with an opportunity to be vulnerable ourselves, we are repelled and feel inadequate.
The Secret of Success is…Vulnerability?
Here’s a question I think we must all consider…
What if what we’re working on and longing for is on the other side of vulnerability? Like Platten’s Fight Song, what if success looks like diving deeply into our own story, working harder at being honest and being courageous vulnerable?
Fear rises up inside us when we start think of being THAT honest. From personal experience, I can tell you – it’s always scary to be vulnerable. However, courage is doing what we know we must in face of the fear.
I believe you have something to offer that the world deeply needs. There is work which you were uniquely created to complete. One of my favorite Bible verses reads, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
In a recent message at my church, I challenged people to embrace their brokenness. I said, “Your mess is the platform for God’s masterpiece.” We mistankely view our mess as a place of shame, instead of a place of power.
One of my favorite Brene Brown questions is “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” That’s a question I would love to ask you. What’s worth doing, even if you fail? Is vulnerability worth it? Even if other people don’t respond the way you hope.
I believe people will connect with your vulnerability in ways you’ve not experienced and you will find a sense of freedom and power in living with courageous vulnerability.
As a communicator, I’ve discovered my deepest sense of connection occurs when I’ve been most transparent. Like when I taught on freedom and cut up the credit cards I was addicted to using. Or teaching on relationships, I shared how a friend had called me out for ignoring people because I was so task-oriented. It seems counter-intuitive, but we connect with each other’s weakness more deeply than we do our strengths.
I can’t and won’t guarantee that embracing vulnerability makes life easier. In fact, it often makes life harder.
But I believe each of us have a “Fight Song” in us, which could change everything, if we’re willing to work hard and go to that place of raw honesty. You have what it takes – to be vulnerable and to make a difference in the world.
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