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Sittin on the Dock of the Bay

Chesapeake Bay that is! Class IV’s trip to the Northern Neck and Tangier Island was definitely one for the books. From oysters to eels, from corn to pumpkins, the region showcased some of Virginia agriculture’s finest. In addition to the fun that was had on the trip, we encountered some pretty serious topics, such as the alleged overfishing of menhaden, water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, and the growing loss of Tangier Island. Any one of these issues could generate a lengthy blog post, but I would like to focus on our leadership development topic: vulnerability.

Through the words of Brene Brown, we were introduced to “the power of vulnerability.” Brown says “Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” and essentially argues that we have to embrace our vulnerability and accept our worthiness before we can live our best lives. If you’re thinking this sounds like a self-help book that Oprah would recommend, I don’t blame you. But after diving a little deeper during our group time, it’s clear that this concept is at the root of our workplaces. Our group had a fantastic in-depth conversation centered around vulnerability and what it means to each of us and how to incorporate it into our management styles. After further reflection, I decided to me, overcoming vulnerability means asking one question:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

A family friend once gave me a plaque with this quote engraved on it when I was much younger, and it seems to resonate now more than ever. As leaders, we have to have both the courage to live this quote and the foresight to empower those around us to do the same. Class IV talked a lot about drawing a line between personal and professional lives, but encouraging vulnerability doesn’t necessarily mean getting in the middle of your employee’s private affairs. It means building them up and creating a work environment where they feel comfortable asking for guidance or bringing forward a new innovative idea. Providing opportunities for employees to be vulnerable can actually make an organization more efficient and effective in the long run.

At the end of this discussion, we received an extremely nice surprise and were given letters of affirmation from important people in our lives who have supported us throughout this VALOR journey. These letters were extremely meaningful and served as a reminder that we each have a strong support system made up of people who believe in us and know that we can succeed, even if at times we are feeling vulnerable!

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