Vulnerability

So this week I want to talk about the notion of vulnerability……..and how opening ourselves up as educators (and trusting each other) might just be the most courageous and powerful thing that we can do in our profession. There seems to be such a strange stigma attached to the idea of being vulnerable, but when I really think about it, courage and strength (and our most powerful opportunities to learn and grow) stem directly from letting our guards down and embracing vulnerability. It’s funny, but in my experience being “vulnerable” is often times associated with weakness………but in actuality nothing could be further from the truth.

I recently read a great book by Brene Brown called Daring Greatly, and it got me thinking about us as a faculty, and how important it is for us to have the strength and courage to be vulnerable with each other………the strength and courage to take risks and move out of our comfort zones……..or to admit our mistakes………. or to admit when we simply don’t know……..or to say that we’re sorry……..or to take ownership of our actions…….or to have the hard conversations with each other from a place of positive intent. It’s so hard to put ourselves out there and to expose our true selves, but it’s only here, in my onion, where we can finally begin to trust.

I used to think that admitting when I made a mistake, or admitting when I didn’t know the answer to something made me somehow less of a leader, and a failure as a Principal……it’s taken me a long while to finally understand that being a strong leader is actually the exact opposite of that…….the more that I show my human side, and the more that I open myself up to learning from all of you, the better leader I become. Brown discusses the power and paradox of vulnerability in her book, and says that “It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I’m going to show you”………and I’m sure that statement will resonate with many of us. We want for people to come to us without any hidden agendas or masks or ulterior motives but when it’s asked of you it can be a scary proposition. It takes courage and vulnerability to open up your classroom to a colleague……it takes courage and vulnerability to share your expertise……..it takes courage and vulnerability to have a conversation with a colleague or a student or a parent whose actions have rubbed you the wrong way……..and it takes courage and vulnerability to share who you truly are as a person with your students. My favorite quote by Brown is, “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage”, and I think it’s time that we started really being vulnerable with each other. Not only will this make us a stronger faculty, it will also make us better educators, better people, and better mentors to our students…….the more we trust the more we will grow together.

I believe that the stronger we get as a team, the more the learning opportunities will be enhanced for all of us…….especially the beautiful and eager faces that get off those buses every morning. This week I’d like for all of us to reflect on this notion of vulnerability, and to take a deep look into how much we’re opening ourselves up to each other. Take that courageous first step and see what happens……I bet you’ll be amazed by how well you’ll be received by your colleagues and students…….the more you show the more you’ll grow! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and vulnerable with each other.

Quote of the Week………..
To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.
— Criss Jami

Article #1 – Why Vulnerability Can be You Biggest Strength (Transformational Leadership)
http://www.transformleaders.tv/why-vulnerability-can-be-your-biggest-strength/
Article #2 – Advice on Vulnerability (Huffington Post)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/brene-brown-advice-vulnerability_n_3392414.html
TEDTalk – Kathryn Schulz – On Being Wrong
http://www.ted.com/playlists/8/a_better_you.html
TEDTalk-  Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability (A Musings repeat but well worth a second look)
http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
Book Suggestion – Brene Brown – Daring Greatly
http://www.amazon.com

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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