Our connection to each other, and our ability to ask for that which we most need, is what brings to each of us the opportunities and progress in life we most want. It is our vulnerability, our willingness to fearlessly show our weakness and need for help from another, that in the end makes us stronger in life and in our relationships. Very little in life is accomplished on our own. We all know this and yet being vulnerable is still something that as a society we don’t embrace as a strength we all must have.
And yet, if you look up the definition of vulnerability on the web this is what you will find.
adjective \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl, ˈvəl-nər-bəl\
: easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally
: open to attack, harm, or damage
There is nothing in the definition that speaks to the upside of being vulnerable. While it can be inferred, if you are enlightened to its hidden value, we don’t think about vulnerability as a positive life enhancing value to be experienced with others. Instead, we see our vulnerability as something to protect, conceal, bury and hide because being vulnerable is ‘a threat to us’.
Over the last week, I have been searching through Google Scholar for research related to vulnerability to finalize bibliographies for IAE courses. I have discovered that there is virtually no other research, besides that of Brené Brown, that looks at the positive aspects and implications of being vulnerable in life and work. Why is this when being vulnerable has such amazing potential to be helpful to us?
Perhaps this is why collaboration is so difficult for us as a society to embrace and sustain. Every aspect of collaboration requires us to be vulnerable enough to reveal what we do and don’t know and what skills we do and don’t have. As I continue to work on building a creative ecosystem from scratch, I am increasingly aware of how important it is to encourage everyone to allow their vulnerabilities to show up and become a shared value.
If you are unfamiliar with the work of Brené Brown, or have not thought much about the value of vulnerability to you in your life, I encourage you to watch her TED talk.
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