September 23, 2010 3 Comments

|Photo by Coach Cassandra Rae||

“The process of coming to terms with vulnerability is one that necessarily shifts a person’s values focus to one that emphasizes self-transformation and interdependence.”

-Greg Jemsek

The word “vulnerability” seems to be up in many parts of my life.  On the home front, there is a lot of discussion about vulnerability as being key to building stronger relationships with my wife and daughters.  What this generally means is being more in touch with feelings of not being in control, of concern for those most dear to me, and of desiring greater closeness.  At times I seem to be good at ignoring these either because I perceive them as painful or inconvenient, and subsequently create a buffer to my ultimate aim which is depth and richness of connection.

At work, the same can be true.  Both internally, where from time to time I like to pretend I have everything under control (Charlie, stop laughing), and externally with clients, where there are days I like to pretend I always know what I’m doing (I’m going to further pretend that I’m good at pulling that one off).  Not admitting that I need help creates a barrier to my goal of uniting as more of a team to get things done both at the office and in the world and to giving others the opportunity to further develop their capacities.

I know this, I am working on it, and I am recently boosted by Greg Jemsek, who has authored an interesting paper on vulnerability as a key to effective leadership for our times.  In particular, he looks at the “inescapable context” of individuals living with disabilities as being a contributor to leadership potential through “increased tolerance for uncertainty, an awareness of limitation, self-honesty, humility, courage, and resilience.”  As one of the people Jemsek interviewed states, “When you have a disability, you realize that the universe is not a logical place, orderly and reasonable.  So instead of big plans about big changes, it’s about small changes at appropriate leverage points.”

In a sense, we are all disabled.  We are all blind to the whole picture, we are often deaf to the voices of those we do not consider to be “our people.”  Perhaps our biggest limitation is in not being honest about our limitations and aware of what harm acting out of these has caused.  What might we do together if we were able to more freely admit to and unite in our vulnerability?


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