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The humbling effect of humanity

Today I witnessed how powerful we are when we connect with others in an authentic, vulnerable and compassionate way.

 

I was working with a group of aspiring leaders in a global corporate bank and we were sharing experiences from our lives which have had a significant impact on us.  In the space of 90 minutes the energy in the room had changed.  It changed from being relatively formal, reserved and professional into being warm, compassionate and charged with human connection.

 

There were tears, periods of silence, laughter and many nods of agreement.  As people shared their experiences and what they had learned from them it was as though they were (metaphorically!) getting naked.  They were demonstrating vulnerability and a willingness to be seen as human beings in front of their colleagues and peers  (which was not their normal Tuesday morning experience!).

 

It is so easy to unconsciously disconnect ourselves from others by hiding our humanity behind an image of how we think the world should see us.  I see this all the time in my work with clients.  People working so hard to be a leader, a business owner, a director, a consultant that they forget that they are also a human being.

 

Being human is full of paradoxes.

 

It’s easy but it’s hard sometimes, it’s natural but it also needs some work, it is joyful and it is heart breaking, it is inspiring and at times boring.  Above all else, it is what connects us with other human beings.

 

Being human is an attractive quality.

 

We are all on this curious journey of living together and we all experience ups and downs which ultimately shape us into the people we are today.  Today I experienced how powerful it is when we acknowledge that fact together, openly and willingly with others.

 

It was humbling to be part of it.  In such a short space of time and in the (usually) staid, professional, mask-wearing environment of a corporate office this group of people had created a shared space which felt so safe that they felt able to take off their masks and admit their humanness.

 

It made me wonder……

 

What would happen if more of us were prepared to get naked more often, or at least shed some of the many layers we wear?

 

Since Brene Brown’s TED talk (The Power of Vulnerability) vulnerability is a word which is no longer an alien concept in business and is often seen as an aspirational quality.  But I still don’t see it (or feel it) happening in practice very much, and I understand why.

 

Often described as “professional”, occasionally described as “guarded” and naturally introverted, I have found it challenging to allow myself to be vulnerable.  However, I know that my relationships (personal and professional) have improved as a result and I know that it doesn’t have to be grand reveals about my darkest times or expressive displays of emotion.  Being vulnerable can be subtle, quiet and simply about letting people see a bit of the real me from behind the mask I wear.

 

What happens when you peak out from behind your mask is that others start to do the same and you create the potential for a much deeper connection with people.  Contrary to what you might think, we are all so much more attractive and easy to connect with when we are free of our masks.

 

And so that group of aspiring leaders will undoubtedly start to experience the benefit of dropping their mask today.  I could already see that amongst them a bond had been created which will hold as they continue on their leadership development journey and I feel confident that how they show up as leaders for their teams will be different now.

 

Read more of my blogs here…….

 

2 Comments
  1. Thanks Susan

    Are you doing a session on this or other related things this summer?

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