The immediate response to this position that comes from many of my professional colleagues is – how can an organization be vulnerable?
My view is that organizations can only survive if the people making decisions are prepared to be vulnerable when necessary. One excellent example of this would be the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. My reading of BP’s behavior in this crisis has been to duck responsibility. It is very likely that the public perception of BP would be much better than it currently is, if the company had expressed their shame and grief over the horrible mess they caused. Instead I assume they took the safe legal route whenever responsibility came up and the public perception is one of cover up. I for one, avoid purchasing anything from BP since this disaster. (1)
I continue to confront my vulnerability from more directions than I would have believed possible. At times I think I have developed an endless number of strategies to avoid vulnerability.
Many of us that could be described high achievers, are especially good at blocking vulnerability. People with lots of will are typically way too busy for all the messy stuff. Too much to do. And we like it that way.
Brene Brown in a TED Talk linked below, talks about her personal journey to vulnerability and she fits well into the category of a person with will. Someone who knows how to achieve what she wants. Her journey toward understanding vulnerability took some 6 years with professional help. I would add that once realized, the vulnerable journey is ongoing. The more vulnerable we are, the more challenges to our vulnerability that we find. The journey becomes our path to growth. In the spiritual sense, this what the Sufi’s call journey to the Face of God, or to become the Perfect Man (who can then see the Face of God).
The vulnerable path, is by definition, a path of service to others, not a path to self gratification.
Brown described the realization of the importance of vulnerability as a breakdown and her therapist described it as a spiritual awakening. Of course, I prefer the latter view.
Without deliberate exploration of the self, and some kind of support system to help keep us honest, it is very easy to delude ourselves that we are doing everything that we possibly can to be good members of our community, a good family member, a good partner in our relationship, and so on.
Speaking from experience, it is very easy to opt for the numb path. We go out and have a few drinks and some fun and forget about what is bothering us.
It is very easy to opt for the blame path. If only XXX would understand what to do, how to follow instructions, how to help me, and so on – then our lives would be better.
Combine these two major distractions from ourselves, and we loose touch with what is really going on. We no longer understand reality because we have created our own reality. And the idea that something is very wrong with our world will never completely go away.
Which path to choose depends on our own ability to resonate with a particular path. Religious or non religious views will influence choices.
Arriving at a particular path may require some shopping around, some experimentation.
Begin somewhere and stay focused on the wanting for more than numbing and blaming.
Have the courage to confront the worst of our fears and keep moving because – as the great teacher Rumi has said “There are many excellent spiritual Teachers but there are not many good students”.
It is not hard to find the right teacher, or teaching method. It is much harder to make their teachings work.
Here is a wonderful talk from Brene Brown to wet the appetite for change.