Learning is about risk, authenticity and vulnerability
As I continue to ponder openness, introversion and the start of #oped12, I am feeling an internal current of energy rising within me. It’s all thanks to fabulous author and blogger Susan Cain and the dots she has connected for me with fellow authors I admire: Gretchen Rubin and Brené Brown.
Borrowing from Dr. Brown’s interview with Ms. Cain, I’d like to offer my own insights on vulnerability and becoming an authentic, open, outspoken introvert within the learning profession:
1. Vulnerability is: taking the risk to be authentic, regardless of how others may percieve me.
2. What role does vulnerability play in my work? Learning is inherently a vulnerable task. So is helping others to learn.
Learning involves risk, failure and potential embarassment, which propel us to develop our resilience or else crumble under pressure. Learning in the participatory, networked age, involves more openness and sharing than ever before, which are also activities that make a person more exposed and vulnerable to criticism, punishment or attack.
Introverts can be mis-labelled as ‘not team players’ and that is very risky in a learning profession dominated by extraverts who reward and recognize outgoingness and particular flavours of group-based contribution and collaboration. Introversion seems to come with a moderate to serious dose of conflict avoidance, which means speaking truth to power can be very threatening, both personally and professionally.
3. What does authenticity mean to me and how do I practice it in my work? I’ve developed considerable confidence in my guidance and expertise over the past few years while researching practices that are quite threatening to the hierarchical status quo. Being authentic means speaking up about seismic shifts in social, networked learning and technology that are revolutionizing my profession. It also means finding authentic ways to express my professional values, opinions, passions and beliefs while still remaining employed!
4. Is perfectionism an issue for me? If so, what’s one of my strategies for managing it? Perfectionsim was a significant issue for me throughout my childhood and education and is still a default behaviour, though I am learning to recognize its limitations and let go more often.
One of the ways that I do that is by reflecting on Gretchen Rubin’s abstainer/moderator question. Perfectionism seems to be an all-or-nothing abstainer behaviour that can lead to analysis paralysis. I actually seek to be a moderator in most aspects of my life and work.
However, I highly value excellence, timeliness, accuracy and quality so perfectionism is an easy path to take, especially when extraverts in my profession seem to champion quality and excellence without always delivering on it. The challenge for me now is to keep designing solutions and offering guidance that are excellent without necessarily being perfect. Jay Cross’ perpetual beta approach fits well here, too.
5. What inspires me? Over the past few years, authenticity has really inspired me because I know first-hand how difficult it is to explore and sustain. I recognize authenticity immediately in others and gravitate towards it. Those who choose to ‘fake it ’till you make it’ tend to rub me the wrong way and I am being much more selective about whether I spend time in their company.
6. What’s something that gets in the way of my creativity and how do I move through it? I think perfectionism and formal schooling used to get in the way of my creativity. In school, there was a right and wrong way to do everything and less than 100% wasn’t good enough. I’m very analytical and detail-oriented as well, which is not really a creative mindset. Thankfully, we had to take an art class in teachers’ college (led by our Dean, no less!) and that reminded me of how joyful it was to let go of rigid structures and processes. I dabble with blogging and photography from more of an instinctual place now and try to leave the style guides and how-to books on the shelf.
I have also learned to seek out creativity from individuals and sources that are outside of my usual network. One example is the #ds106 mooc and The Daily Create assignment. The contents of that site add so much richness to my thoughts and experiences, offering many ways of looking at the same concept or object. I am also playing around with a fun little application called Draw Something, which is a light-hearted way to get one’s point across, even with strangers.
7. What’s on my nightstand? Steve Jobs’ biography with that captivating front cover photo and The Red House by Mark Haddon on my e-reader.
8. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in my life. I am happiest at home with my loved ones, two legs and four. Recent joyful moments include watching my puppy chase butterflies on the beach, swooning over crepes with one fellow black sheep, exploring introversion in the workplace with another and cheerleading authenticity while floating in a lake with a third.
9. Do I have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with my whole heart? It’s a combination of “Be Gretchen“, “Focus on the 90%“, “Go big or stay home“, truth at all times and “Love like you’ll never get hurt”.
10. My six word memoir (from Smith Magazine’s Six Word Memoirs): I loved, travelled, ate and shared!
If you would like to share your thoughts on introversion, risk, authenticity and vulnerability, I’m all eyes.
From → Smarter worker