Friday, February 25, 2011

The power of vulnerability

I've blogged here a few times in the past on the concept of risk and its value in certain parts of our lives, particularly teaching and learning.  I listened to a TED talk earlier this week that has reinforced this idea for me.

In her TEDxHouston talk, Brene Brown discusses the importance of vulnerablity, particularly as it relates to our relationships with others.  In a nutshell, she argues that in order to feel connected to others and to experience a genuine feeling of love and belonging, we must have the courage to be imperfect and to allow others to see us as we really are.  Almost paradoxically, this act of embracing vulnerability and living with the risks that come with relationships (e.g. being the first to say "I love you," readily admitting personal weaknesses and asking others to help us grow in these ways, etc.) leads to what she terms "wholeheartedness" and a deeper sense of connection to others.

I like this concept.  I'm still trying to make sense of it and think through what it means for me.  But, I think it has serious implications for the kinds of learning that we experience through our relationships with others.  I'm sure that I would learn and change a great deal more from my interactions and relationships with friends, family, and colleagues if I was more transparent and honest about my imperfections.  This might be the most risky thing I could do.  But, it seems to have the potential to lead to more learning than anything else I might do.

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