Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vulnerability, Difference, and Belonging

by Miki Kashtan

Any of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while or know me otherwise have heard me talk countless times about how vitally important the path of vulnerability has been for me. I’ve been walking this path for sixteen years now, about as long as I’ve been using and sharing Nonviolent Communication in the world. The vulnerability path has been the occasion for profound liberation for me and I can say without exaggeration that it is the foundation on which I continue to do all of my learning about being human, about leadership, about power, about interdependence, and even about social change.

So it has been a great treat for me to discover a fellow traveler. Some time ago, I watched BrenĂ© Brown’s first TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability, and was astonished and delighted by the content. This past Sunday I watched her recent talk, Listening to Shame. I was spellbound. First, I found the content captivating, because it is so aligned with my own experience and what I teach. My most favorite quote is that “vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage,” which fits entirely with my own efforts to re-frame vulnerability from an expression of weakness to a source of strength. I was also completely taken, again, by her personality and presentation style, which I found engaging, warm, and entertaining, even as she spoke of sensitive and painful subjects.

This would likely have turned into a lovely and satisfying experience I would never think to tell anyone about, except that I also focused on trying to learn what it was that she is doing that results in attracting millions to what I experience as fundamentally the same message I put out and get only a few hundred people at best. This question, in one form or another, has been a secret pain of mine for some years. In part because I consistently get astonishing feedback from some people, I continue to believe that I have some unique gifts to offer, and continue to suffer, from time to time, about my inability to reach more people.