Saturday, January 23, 2016

Becoming Vulnerable

What does it mean to be vulnerable?'s first definition of the word is, "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt." Who wants that?

Being vulnerable is hard. Earlier this week at a professional development we discussed the excuses that we use to overcome our vulnerability. We pretend; we act as though it wasn't our fault, and we do not accept responsibility. We make things certain; we convince ourselves of our opinions and beliefs, and we don't leave any room for uncertainty

However, avoiding the risk of making ourselves vulnerable is not helpful. It doesn't improve us as people. It doesn't improve us as leaders. It doesn't improve our schools. We have to take risks and make ourselves vulnerable.

Brene Brown does a much better job than me of discussing The Power of Vulnerability in her powerful TED Talk.

Brown says, "Vulnerability is kind of the core of shame, and fear and our struggle for worthiness." But she goes on to say that vulnerability, "is also the birthplace of Joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love." Those are desirable things. So how do I make myself vulnerable? Or maybe a better question is, how do I try to make myself vulnerable? Because like I said earlier in the post, being vulnerable is hard; it is a continual work in progress.

In her TED talk, Brown talks about having courage. When I think about having courage I think about things like not having to be perfect. We need to give ourselves permission to fail. Recently, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday; like he famously says, "but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." This is true. We don't have to be perfect, but we have to have the courage to try and then continuously try again.

Brown also talks about the need for compassion. And this is not just having compassion towards others, but maybe more important is that we are kind to ourselves. Perfection is often unattainable; making errors and mistakes are reality. Learn from them. Embrace them. Being uncomfortable stretches us, but that's how we grow. Embrace it.

And Brown goes-on to talk about connections. We can't do this alone. We have to develop relationships with people. Our actions have to have a certain level of transparency. And we have to be able to trust those that we are working with.

It is important that we make continual efforts to practice gratitude and joy. We have to love with our whole hearts, even when there are no guarantees...because often times, there are no guarantees. And we have to have self confidence; we have to believe in ourselves. Like Brown tells, us "I am enough."

We must become vulnerable. We must risk failure, scrutiny, change, and embarrassment in-order to do the things that what we think are going to be what is best for kids.

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