one of the most important ideas in the field of organisational development

— Degrees of vulnerability


Degrees of vulnerability

by Andy Howie

I’ve not written a blog with Mark, our Space2think, writer for over four weeks, and, now, as I sit down to do one with him, I find I am asking myself what purpose does it serve. Why do I blog?

Perhaps I want to get something of myself into the world. I think I have a natural tendency to want to keep my thoughts to myself, but there is something about the routine process of blogging that requires me to commit to sharing my musings. I enter the process with a strong intention to do so, and maybe I need the structure to make me, but it does stretch me. Blogging provokes a deeper and wider enquiry of myself and it can also bring encouragement when it prompts an affirming response. I never have a burning desire to blog and often I fight a reluctance to do so, but then I also think that what is important to me could be important to others too. Many years ago, a facilitator of a group I was taking part in said, “What is most personal is often what is most universal”.

On the other hand, I know there is too much information out there, too much to take in. So why do I add to this? Why do we, at Space2think, blog? Our aim is to work with people to help them develop themselves, increase their self-awareness and make changes, and we feel it is important that we engage in the same process – lead by example, perhaps. The word ‘educate’ stems from the Latin word ‘educere’ which means to lead, draw out. Our hope is that our blogging will lead people to understand themselves, to continue to educate themselves.

Writing about the questions we ask ourselves at Space2think invites you into the process too. Hopefully, it helps you to understand who we are, what we believe and what we bring doubt, rather than certainty, to at times. Bringing doubt rather than certainty often leads to questions, enquiry, curiosity and opportunity for new learning.

Professor Reg Revans (1907 – 2003) pioneered action learning, considered to be one of the most important ideas in the field of organisational development. In his 20s, Revans was a research scientist working with JJ Thomson and Ernest Rutherford. He was impressed by Rutherford’s insistence that however eminent individual scientists were in their fields, they be willing to share their doubts with each other. “What does your ignorance look like to you?” Revans remembered Rutherford asking at one of the regular meetings.

When we work with people in the coaching and action learning programmes we run, we ask them to be vulnerable, open and honest, so we need to model that ourselves in the programmes. Our blogs are another way of doing that publicly, but it is not easy and we do sometimes feel uncomfortable. Editing the blog’s first draft is never a quick process. It requires several read throughs and much thought. We don’t take it lightly, but we have a firm belief that there is power in being vulnerable – in expressing our humanness. How far does this go though? We are at risk of censoring ourselves when editing our blogs. Is that okay? We must all decide on the limits we place on exposing our vulnerability, using discernment to decide what remains private and what can be made public.

There are degrees of vulnerability, but if I always ask others to tell me about themselves and avoid sharing something of myself, does that make me nosey? If I talk endlessly about me and never ask about you, does that make me selfish? We hope that our blogs are not just a one-way stream of consciousness, but are more of a conversation starter, so please do tell us your thoughts. There is power in expressing our vulnerabilities; we must all work out to what degree we are willing to share.


Image attribution: Uitleg & tekst on  Flickr under Creative Commons License