“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” – Dr. Brené Brown
Change is a physically and emotionally exhausting process, and, in today’s fast-paced world, change seems to be both constant and inevitable. Whether it’s within ATC, at school, in the community, or in our personal lives, we are continually forced to grapple with changing circumstances and navigate new situations that are often unfamiliar, disorienting, and overwhelming.
We often think of change as a one-time event: you prepare for the change, the change happens, and then everything is different. However, we know from research like Bridge’s Transition Theory that big change also requires a very personal transition as people learn to act and behave in new ways. As leaders and change agents, we must not only think through the logistical details of how we will implement the change, we must also think through how we will help others to process their emotions and build new habits as they move through this larger transition.
Change is hard enough, but in many ways transition is even harder. Not only must people learn new knowledge and skills in order to implement the change, they must also understand the purpose of the change and accept that the change is an acceptable sacrifice to make. Fear of failure means that this period of uncertainty is extremely scary! What if this isn’t the right change? What if the change doesn’t work? What if you’re not good at doing things the new way? What if, what if, what if…
Brave Vulnerability is one of ATC’s new core values: “We demonstrate courage through connection, authenticity, and a sustained openness to change.”
Dr. Brené Brown (the renowned “expert” on vulnerability) addresses the need for vulnerability in the video above and explains how change and creativity are only actually achieved by being vulnerable. The status quo almost always feels the most comfortable, and challenging the status quo almost always requires a period of uncertainty, conflict, and self-doubt. The fear of failure and the potential for rejection will never go away — instead, we must leverage brave vulnerability to push past our fear or discomfort anyway.
Sometimes, this vulnerability means trying new strategies even when you’re unsure if they will work. Sometimes, this vulnerability means attempting to build a relationship with someone you think doesn’t like you or has completely different values than you. And, sometimes, this vulnerability means being critically honest with yourself about your own unproductive or problematic habits.
Although change is scary, I’m always reassured that the existence of change means we have an opportunity to be different/better tomorrow than we are today (both as an organization and as individuals)! ATC staff have been collaborating as a team to think through how best to support you all as Fellows throughout ATC’s big organizational changes, and we hope that you are able to utilize this knowledge of the change process to also implement smaller changes in your professional practice and/or personal routines.
This resource from Elena Aguilar’s “The Onward Workbook” (Process for Changing Behaviors) is a great tool for reflecting on how you personally experience change and creating a simple action plan for implementing new habits. This tool is designed for you to use independently but, as always, feel free to reach out to your coach for any support or accountability in using this tool to make small changes in your routines or practice.