Posted by: drewdice | May 17, 2009

Transparency and Vulnerability

I’m often amazed at the challenges that we humans deal with on a day to day basis. Pushing ourselves to achieve, learn, share and grow in new and different ways is one of the things that motivates individuals to get up, engage the world, and make this planet a better place.

Somewhere along the way, though, people get derailed, and although I believe I know the “where”, I haven’t been able to get my head around the logic of “why”. See if you can help me. Here is what I believe:

When we were kids (or, at least when I was), my mother instilled in me and my sister many of the values with which my mother was raised: truth, integrity, instinctively knowing the difference between right and wrong, and the importance of sharing. I’ve got to tell you that sharing my toys, credit for accomplishments, and even my favorite foods was never an issue for me. Sharing my thoughts, well, that was another story. I’ve always given trust to others, even strangers, readily; some who know me very well often tell me that I may give my trust too easily and freely. I disagree, but that is a topic for another time. I say hello to complete strangers as I walk down the street, like to offer help to others who appear to need it, even if I don’t know them, and I like to make pleasant chit chat with random people, because I believe it is a gift to make someone else’s day, and just a light conversation can brighten someone’s spirit. I digress. Where I’ve sometimes times fallen short is in sharing my thoughts and feelings, my fears and my goals. What I’m not advocating is that we should walk around sharing our deepest, darkest feelings with complete strangers. What I am suggesting, though, is that, as a nation, we’ve become too protectionist in our nature.

Openness, honesty, sharing and a spirit that welcomes open dialogue, conflict, friction, differing views and beliefs seems to have fallen a bit by the wayside. In the growing age of technology, we are communicating in new and different ways, and across at 4 generations in the workplace, which has never before occurred. We are more fearful than ever: fearful of being wrong, of looking foolish, of being exposed, of sharing information that may somehow, someway, somewhere, come back to haunt us. We have lost our authenticity as a nation, in my opinion, and this has eroded our ability to connect with each other in a more sincere, meaningful way. Think about your personal and professional relationships, and those of your coworkers and friends. For me, I hear conversations littered with phrases like: “I can’t believe …… happened”, or “why did ……. happen”, or “my input is never heard or valued”. Take a quick scan through your mental rolodex, and I am confident you’ll find many similar examples, and others that I didn’t mention.

The source for all of these symptoms is breakdowns in communication, stemming from a lack of trust. People don’t trust that their opinions will be heard; we don’t trust that we can speak what is on our mind without a fear of reprucussions (at work, or at home), we refrain from giving more of ourselves because we aren’t getting what we want (at work, or at home), and we don’t trust that if we continue offering ourselves, that we’ll get back at least the same “value” in return. A great book to read on this topic of trust is Patrick Lencioni’s The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. In Lencioni’s view, it all comes back to trust (avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, and inattention to results). I could not agree more.

If we really want what we want out of this ride called life, we need to accept all of the responsibility that comes with that request. Inherent in getting what we want is our ability to help others get what they want. We need to act with gratitude, communicate with transparency (open and honest dialogue and behavior develops deep trust, mutual respect and eliminates a person’s need to withhold information, emotion, caring and sharing), show humility, and share our vulnerable selves.

With these beliefs driving our thoughts, and these thoughts creating our every day actions, we can and will create powerful relationships, build successful businesses and enterprises, and establish the foundation of a framework in which we realize personal and professional dreams as a rule, not the exception.

I invite you to share this fabulous journey with me.




  1. If more people thought this way, what a wonderful world this would be!

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