Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Showing Weakness

I forget how cathartic writing can be. Today's day was much calmer, easier. I did what I could, and accepted that as the day's gift to me.

It is now very late, and I must be up early to catch a flight to San Diego. My goals for this weekend: Shake hands with President Bill Clinton and say "Mr. President" as I'm doing it, and tell Sylvia Earle how amazing she is.

Today was a gray day, topped off with a light drizzle. Without the sun to distract me with its light plays, I considered instead the tree blossoms giving way to the bright emerald of spring growth. Nervous about the rain threats today, I drove in to campus and then walked around from class to class, loving the slow pace and the new sight it granted me.

Today I want to tell you about a revelation I had during a leadership training session last weekend. In this exercise, there was an abstract model in one room, and a team of builders and runners in another room. The runners were tasked with going back and forth to describe verbally how the builders could replicate the model. One twist: a runner or a builder on any team could be in the role of a deceiver - the person whose job it was to mess everyone else up.
It turns out that my memory is horrible for the details of the model, and I was a runner. This meant that I often came back from the model room, and could barely remember anything about it. My team immediately suspected me, and was secretly making sure that someone else checked up on everything else I did.
In our debrief, we talked about what it felt like to be suspected of untrustworthiness. We talked about how we reacted to "untrustworthy" behaviors. It turns out that almost every team identified someone as the deceiver, when in fact only 2 people in the whole room had the true role (none of them were correctly identified by their teammates).

But what really came out of this was that if I'd only spoken up about my weakness (bad memory), people would have known they could at least trust my own assessment of my skills, rather than feeling like they needed to covertly double-check everything I said.  Last year around this time, I was struggling with how to be more emotionally vulnerable. Now, it's time for me to be confident in expressing my vulnerabilities. The more I think about it, the more I realize that being vulnerable is as much about learning to ask for help as it is about allowing yourself to create meaningful relationships with others.
My own wall that I throw up, professionally, is one of silence. If I don't understand a situation, I just don't say anything. I'll go and think about it later. But as someone pointed out in yesterday's leadership conference - in business, if you don't talk, it's like you're not even there. Speaking out is a way of giving another your thoughts, but it is also the act of allowing someone to see something of you. And as a panelist at the Nasher Art Museum said, we love portraits because we see something of ourselves in them. My frequent inability to communicate about myself no doubt hinders others' ability to connect with me in an honest way.

This weekend will be the perfect opportunity to speak out (and to be outspoken!) 

P.S. This weekend will also by my first foray into Twitter (maybe). You can follow me at @jenniferachin
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