Sunday, February 13, 2022

Strength in Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” - BrenĂ© Brown

Change is hard.  It is even more challenging to sustain.  While there are many obstacles to individual or system growth, fear and comfort tend to lead the pack.  Both work to stymie a desire to improve for different reasons.  Often, we are afraid of taking risks or embracing new ideas because they might not work out, resulting in a decrease in performance, outcomes, or morale.  What might be will never be experienced if we are not open to trying.  Then there is comfort, which is typically the enemy of progress.  Hugh Jackman said something to this effect in The Greatest Showman.  What can materialize is a false sense that our current actions or practices are still effective.  

I shared the following in Disruptive Thinking:

Complacency has an insidious ability to inhibit our growth.  When we are in a state of relative comfort with our professional practice, it is often difficult to move beyond that zone of stability and, dare I say, “easy” sailing.  If it isn’t broke, why fix it, right?  Maybe we aren’t pushed to take on new projects or embrace innovative ideas.

While there is no silver bullet when it comes to change and growth, both become harder to achieve when we are not vulnerable.  While the standard view is that this is a sign of weakness, it is precisely the opposite.  Strength comes from stepping into the unknown and putting yourself in a position to tackle adversity head-on as a means to an end – getting better!  Vulnerability as a catalyst for change and springboard for growth comes from:

  • Stating you don’t know
  • Asking for help
  • Admitting you were wrong 
  • Sharing mistakes
  • Not hiding emotions (it’s ok to shed a tear)

The list above is all about being human and using perceived weaknesses as a bridge to not only build powerful relationships with others but also to actively overcome fear and complacency as a result of comfort.  As I mentioned earlier, change will be even more difficult, or in some cases impossible, if vulnerability isn’t seen as an asset.  Maz Dela Cerna shares the following:

Putting yourself out there, taking that leap, and showing vulnerability take a lot more courage and strength than to keep quiet and do nothing.  It shows strength when you can swallow your pride and ask for help.  It’s perfectly natural to experience tough times and to not always be on a high.  It takes guts to put yourself out there and launch an idea.  While you may be vulnerable and open yourself up to failure, you may also succeed.

I recently joined Tom Murray on the Future Ready podcast to share some of my thoughts on the topic, which you can view below. 

There is absolutely no shame in being vulnerable when it comes to change.  In the words of Brene Brown, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen.  It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” If growth is an individual as well as a collective goal, which it should be, then embrace vulnerability and be the change you wish to see in education.  

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