There are many norms and patterns in life, in contemporary work settings, that not only don’t welcome vulnerability, but indeed, shun it. It’s found in the statements I hear in gatherings like this week, The Circle Way At Work, when someone shares a story, gets teary, and then apologizes or expresses surprise at the unusualness of his or her tears. For so many, the work setting has been a place to “leave the personal behind.”
“Leave the personal behind” has always been baffling to me. Almost as silly as saying, bring all of you into your work, but not your fingers. Or, all, but not your elbows. Too much of anything can create challenge, but that is certainly not restricted to the personal. It’s true for fierce, directive leadership too, right. Enough already, make some room for others to share and participate.
I feel like I learned a bit more about vulnerability this week. I’m one who tends to feel comfortable sharing my inner world, even much of the half-cooked parts. I love being able to connect with others and actually meet each other in the realness and sharedness of half-cooked. It lifts a vail. I diffuses an illusion that I suppose I’m a bit unintentionally complicit in maintaining of having it all together or of wanting to have it all together.
I shared a story this week about a group I’ve worked with. The point of the story was really about how circle was essential to help reclaim a space of commitment within a group in conflict and tension. It was a group that had been triggered by a shared experience but yet a vastly different interpreted sense-making. It wasn’t a story of happily ever after. It was a story of interrupting hurt and interrupting some reactive behavior to reclaim a connection within a group.
I didn’t realize it until after telling it that I felt a unique vulnerability. I think it was a feeling of some failure, even though what I was able to contribute to the triggered group in my story was quite vital and helpful. I suppose there is a part of me that wants all of the stories to work out. I want the happily ever after, even though I’m generally more intrigued by the imperfect and flawed aspects of the stories that I hear in others.
It’s rare to meet in vulnerability. I’m thinking, I don’t want it to be so rare. And in saying that, I’m also learning that vulnerability has scale to it. It’s the honesty that we so need with each other, in groups and communities these days. Even when your good at sharing, there can be a few added edges. I feel like I bumped into that this week. And spun in it for a bit. And, relearned, to welcome this not just in others, but in my self, this vulnerable feeling.
Ding. Ringing a bell in gratitude for being with people that are kind and thoughtful in their learning.
Learning 3: Meeting in vulnerability. Be willing. And kind with it. We aren’t always at our “got it all figured out” stages.