Vulnerability and Transformation
A few days ago I suffered a near loss. Today, grieving allow me to talk to you about vulnerability (In a vulnerable state) and how it helps us transform ourselves.
Lao Tzu extensively explores the meaning of vulnerability in the Tao Tze Ching. He helps us understand that it is the key to self-disclosure, trust, and connection. Being vulnerable is being brave and honest with genuine emotions. It opens us to others, removing the resistance that prevents us from showing our paradigms, fears, and deepest feelings. Although vulnerability may seem like an odd topic for an Agile blog post, I will show you that it is key to any transformation process.
What does vulnerability mean?
There are many definitions of vulnerability, the one I want to share with you because it is really simple, comes from Brené Brown’s TEDx talk. In it, she says that “Vulnerability is the place where change is born.” This means that we have to be vulnerable to create something new or accept new things in our professional or personal life. For change to happen in ourselves, teams, or organizations, we have to be willing to experience discomfort. Vulnerability makes us human indeed. Whenever I think about it, it’s our birthright. We are born defenseless, in a highly vulnerable state, and if you think deeply about it, our survival depends on the care and protection of those who love us. And as we grow older and more empowered, we recognize that the more we can accept and expose this vulnerability, the more powerful and transformative our lives will be. Therefore, vulnerability is recognizing that uncertainty and risk are factors that we do not control but take into account to adapt or continue to survive.
The idea of vulnerability is no longer new to Agile. If we talk about accepting change, we talk about recognizing vulnerability that we control absolutely nothing. At this point, I call the Sweet Spot of transformation, where the differences start to happen of their own volition.
Acknowledging vulnerability is accepting that the only way to get ahead is through flexibility and adaptability. But will it be easy for people to achieve this?
Vulnerability and Emotional Intelligence
One of the themes that I share the most with the Agile Coach community is the beautiful relationship between vulnerability and emotional intelligence.
I have been teaching knowledge and competence courses in Agile Coaching for ten years, and this is one of the most critical topics:
The ability to recognize our vulnerability and that of others allows us to understand better the human condition or that of the team, and therefore, empathize with any process of change or transformation.
In addition, the vulnerability allows you to explore and share the components of emotional intelligence:
- The ability to understand and identify your own emotions as an Agile Coach.
- The ability to understand and identify the emotions of others without judgment or inference.
- The ability to consciously manage our emotional states and consequently how we behave.
Emotionally Intelligent Agile Coaches use their emotions to empathize with themselves and empathize with the feelings of others. It also allows them to recognize that, in effect, they do not know everything and that they are not in charge of any transformation, but instead of showing its benefits so that others carry out the transformation processes of their own free will. Emotional intelligence is an essential trait in them for the simple fact of being in constant balance and equilibrium between vulnerability and the transforming force they share with everyone.
Emotionally intelligent Agile Coaches do not allow their emotional reactions to cloud their judgment. Instead, they channel their emotions into positive actions and endless curiosity. They understand that feeling uncomfortable being part of or accompanying change is inevitable, but they don’t let it stop them from achieving their goals. And the best part? They teach the same to others by example.
Sharing that being vulnerable is an essential part of initiating change is vital because the word vulnerability is synonymous with a weakness for most people. Vulnerability gets a bad rap in organizations (remember the last time your leader was vulnerable?). We are told that feeling vulnerable is terrible and that being vulnerable makes us weak.
However, today it is quite the opposite. Recognizing that we are vulnerable connects us with our strengths and our team and allows us to work as a team.
By understanding each other better, we can more easily empathize with others and be more present at the moment. This allows us to make better decisions considering everyone’s voice (Inclusion and neutrality).
Be vulnerable to accept change.
Change is difficult. No one wants to change, especially when it comes to habits that have worked. But we all know that change is necessary if we’re going to improve everything. So how can we use vulnerability as a superpower to make any change in our professional or personal life?
Working in the Growth Mindset means recognizing and sharing with the people and teams we accompany that:
- Change requires us to be vulnerable.
- Change requires that we take risks and put ourselves out there.
- Change requires us to be beginners, again and again, eternal students and travelers, which is difficult for many people.
Real-life is messy, complicated, unpredictable, and uncertain. We try so hard to be perfect all the time that it’s easy to forget this fact of life, business, entrepreneurship, or society itself. This false illusion of control is harmful because we don’t want anyone to see our weaknesses, so we hide them. But, thanks to the world showing us that it can change radically overnight, more and more people understand that being vulnerable, flexible, and adaptable are strengths.
Being vulnerable helps you connect with others and build meaningful relationships. It also gives you the power to accept change in your life.
If I had to summarize my experience as an Agile Coach over the last 12 years, it would be: Vulnerability and emotional intelligence are the keys for us to accompany transformation indeed.
Using the power of vulnerability, we can find ourselves and help people find themselves on an open path to transformation. Emotional intelligence allows us to break down the wall of our beliefs and help others be flexible and adaptable. Both are the most potent cocktail for everyone to understand that change is constant and always will be; So people, teams and organizations need to recognize and accept it. And you as an Agile Coach must grow in them the necessary Growth Mindset that they will then use as the most potent weapon to continue existing thanks to the flexibility and adaptability that it returns to them.
“So whenever you face a ghost, walk right up to it. And it will disappear.” — Alan Watts.
We must learn to say “I’m scared”, “I don’t understand this”, “Help me” or “This makes me uncomfortable.” Without vulnerability, there is no transformation.