In the modern life, and particularly in modern organizations, from top to bottom, we live in fear. Hence communication is seldom authentic. Authenticity requires vulnerability. Yet when communication becomes authentic and vulnerable, something happens. Trust goes up, minds and hearts open, we leave the conventional, transactional realm, and growth becomes possible. Only when I encounter deeply mature, purpose driven people do I see the power of vulnerability manifest at work. It is evidenced in their people who are empowered and growing.
A friend sent some quotes on vulnerability. I offer them here so the reader might be able to reflect on doing the impossible at work.
- When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable (Madeleine L’Engle ).
- And maybe that was love. Being so vulnerable and allowing someone else in so far they could hurt you, but they also give you everything (Christine Feehan).
- To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength (Criss Jami).
- Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change (Brené Brown).
- Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light (Brene Brown).
- Virginia Pearce tells of a woman named Emma Lou Thayne who is a wise and gifted writer. Pearce listened to Thayne speak in a class. Thayne shared an intimate story about her daughter’s battle with an eating disorder. She openly shared her struggles as a parent. When she was finished Pearce said, “I am in awe of your willingness to be so personal about your own difficulties. I don’t know that I could do that.”
Pearce then writes, “I will never forget her answer. She turned to me squarely, but with understanding. Her gentle response went something like this: ‘Virginia, our stories are what make the difference, and if we can tell them honestly we can hope to help each other. In the end, we have nothing to offer each other but our stories. When I open-heartedly offer my stories to you, both of us feel less alone. We both feel braver, stronger, and more complete (Virginia H. Pearce; A Heart Like His; 2006:80).” (Robert E. Quinn).
What does fear have to do with vulnerability?
Why is organizational communication so often logical and inauthentic?
What could I do to bring the power of vulnerability to my people?
How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?