Lesson 4: The Power of Vulnerability
Vulnerability is an essential element of effective leadership. When you say, "This is what I believe. This is where I think we should go," you are putting yourself out there and becoming vulnerable.
In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Brown puts it this way:“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." – Brene Brown - Daring Greatly
She goes directly at the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness, contending that it's the opposite.
In his book, A Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman argues that leaders not only need to learn to embrace vulnerability, they need to learn to love it. They need to choose adventure over safety. This indeed takes courage.
Author Seth Godin writes in his blog post "Out on a limb," that when you are doing important work, you will say to yourself, "This might not work."
He writes: "At some level, 'this might not work' is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing. And it can paralyze us into inaction..." – Seth Godin
In this case, he is referring to projects, but this also applies to leadership. It is the essence of choosing adventure over safety. To be a leader implies that you are going somewhere. This, by definition, involves change. And change is scary.
I believe adventure and vulnerability are synonymous. Learn to embrace them. Grow to love the feeling of putting yourself out there. Why? Because it's the only way to lead positive change.
Godin puts it this way: “'This might not work' is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it's a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible." – Seth Godin - Out On A Limb
You have a choice. You can choose adventure or safety. There’s no in-between. I believe God calls us to adventure as an expression of faith. It doesn’t mean we’ll end up where we want to go, but trusting in God is never the wrong choice.
On the other hand, safety puts no trust in God. It not only limits possibility, it’s likely to keep us stuck.
Which will you choose?
The Center for Vital Leadership is a ministry of the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences
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