The sooner we begin sharing our imperfections with the people we love and the people we serve, the sooner they will stop expecting to perfect.
The day begins with me pouring out my heart and soul.
Well, maybe that was a bit extreme. Okay, I would start off by sharing some of my biggest screw-ups. I’ve done this so often now you’d think it would be easy. And while it does get easier, it is never easy. But it matters, and after a while, my hope is that you would begin to
understand feel why.
Who am I though? I am just one person you probably know little to nothing about. So, I would share stories of other educators who have screwed up as well. And by screwed up, I don’t mean little mistakes. No, I am referring to mistakes that knocked them down hard. Hard enough to make them wonder if they’d ever get back up.
But they do. They did.
Not only do they get back up — they stepped forward.
Hopefully, by this point, you would begin to see, if you didn’t already, just how powerful being vulnerable can be. You would then be given time to reflect with the person sitting next to you. Nothing too personal yet. Just a brief opportunity to talk about what you just heard.
At this point, I think you’d be ready for the next step.
You would be given a half hour to recall a few of the biggest mistakes you’ve made during your career. Maybe you would create a bullet list. Or, maybe you write nothing because the mistake you made is so vivid in your mind that you are able to recall every detail like it happened yesterday.
Either way, whatever you decide, when the half hour is over you are ready. Ready to share. But don’t worry. We start small because being vulnerable is never easy.
So, you and someone with whom you already trust, go off to yourselves. Maybe it’s a different room. Maybe it’s in the hallway. Maybe you go for a walk outside. Regardless of where you choose, what matters most is that you and your colleague can share your mistakes with each other privately.
This may take anywhere from a half hour to an hour. And now it is time for lunch. You have accomplished much and the best is yet to come. While the afternoon may take a lot out of you, by the time we are finished, your staff/team/division will be closer than you ever could have imagined.
When you return from lunch you notice that the chairs are arranged in a circle. You think you know why and it worries you just a bit. Once we are all seated, I begin by sharing a big mistake. One that is quite embarrassing, but one that maybe you’ve made before too.
You have a pretty good idea what is coming next. I ask for volunteers. Little eye-contact is made and the room is uncomfortable. But then someone breaks the ice. Maybe it is the leader of the group or maybe it is someone that you’d never expect.
They begin slowly. And you hang on their every word. As they share, you start to see them in an entirely different light. You feel as if you know them just a little bit better. You two are not so different after all. When she is done sharing you feel the urge to go next. As do many of your colleagues.
Momentum is building. Everyone wants to share. They feel comfortable because they now know that they are not alone. The afternoon goes quickly. The circle is now tighter and stronger. You realize that these are people you can trust. People with whom you share something in common.
If we’re vulnerable together, we’re going to get close. We’re going to trust each other, we’re going to cooperate, we’re going to have cohesion. It’s the way we’re built.
Dan Coyle (excerpt from WorkLife hosted by Adam Grant)
This is a day you will not soon forget. All this time you thought that trust came before vulnerability. Today, you learned otherwise.
You reflect on the day. While you are emotionally drained, you feel energized and hopeful for what the future holds. These are people with whom you can move mountains. These are your people. This is your circle.
∞ If the day I described above sounds like something you or your organization would be interested in — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org — vox me at jharper3658 — or call me at 410-829-7243. I look forward to hearing from you.