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Hidden Vulnerabilities and Your Career Success

communication leadership personal development Mar 27, 2022

So today I am going to take you from the world stage down to your career using a quote from what I consider to be a great book. 

But first, a story

I was sitting in a meeting with senior officers from my company and we were discussing a recent contract loss and how we should deal with it. All around the table, including the CEO and our corporate counsel, agreed we should proceed with a legalistic approac

In the back of my mind

I had reservations about whether this approach would work or not. I thought we might reach a compromise with the other company that would result in work sharing, vice going to the whole enchilada or nothing approach.

Recognizing a career vulnerability

I didn't say anything thinking that if all the other officers were in agreement, then before I opened my pie hole, I needed to think about my approach first.

Choosing not to expose a career vulnerability

The meeting ended with the agreement to pursue the legalistic approach, and me keeping quiet. Was it really the best way to deal with the situation?

I digress

I said at the outset, that I would take this article from the world stage down to your career.

So, let's start at the world stage.

As I write this, the Russian assault on Ukraine is in its third week, without a clear outcome.

  • Will the Russians succeed and conquer Ukraine (politically) and set up a puppet government?
  • Will the Ukrainians hold out?
  • Will we see an eventual grinding war halt as negotiations proceed?
  • Will the war spill over to other parts of Europe, with disastrous implications?

Or, maybe, China will do something to take advantage of the Western World's focus on Ukraine.

I, like most, have no clear idea as to the outcome. 

Taleb's book, Antifragile

The current events bring to mind what Nassim Nicholas Taleb said in his book "Antifragile". It is:

"Firms become weak during periods of steady prosperity...hidden vulnerabilities accumulate under the surface. Delaying a crisis is not a good idea."

Replace Firms with nations

Then I think you have something akin to what has and is happening in Europe right now.

International vulnerabilities

Nations, particularly those of Europe have had years of prosperous times, while investing little in their ability to defend themselves, preferring instead to leave that heavy spending to the US. 

Vulnerabilities were hidden over decades

This has created once hidden, but now exposed, vulnerabilities that accumulated over decades. Would we be in this same situation if this had not been the case?

  • Did we delay a crisis until it resulted in war?
  • Is Taleb correct, and can we make the leap from firms to nations?

Good questions to ponder!

World stage to your career

So now I want to make that transition from the world stage to your career. After all, that's why you listen to my old jarhead ramblings!

Your career is going well

Let's take the situation where your career is doing well. You are very competent in your job. You are respected. You have been promoted and given raises. You are in times of steady prosperity, from standpoint of your career.


Your hidden vulnerabilities

But are hidden vulnerabilities accumulating? Is there something going on at work that you see as a potential mistake that could turn into a crisis? For your career or for your employer. And, because of your prosperity, are you turning a blind eye towards it, not wanting to rock the boat on your steadily progressing career?

Back to my original story

So, as we left the meeting, I thought let me examine this situation a little more and then, if I still believe we've made a wrong decision, let the CEO know and air that out.

Things quickly changed

I delayed coming forward with my doubts about our approach and it cost us as we completely lost that contract. I realized I had delayed confronting the prevailing thought. I had become weak during times of steady prosperity. It kind of sneaks up on you during good times, unless you actively look for it.

So, what are today's takeaways?

  1. Taleb's book Antifragile is a very enlightening read, and I highly recommend


  1. During times within your career in which things seem to be going very well, actively look for those hidden vulnerabilities that can later become a crisis


  1. When you see a crisis developing, don't kick it under the Bring it to the surface and actively deal with it so that it does not result in a full-blown crisis.

Thanks for reading this article. I hope you have enjoyed it and maybe even learned something. If so, please like, share, and comment.