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A letter to vulnerability

17 April 2020

Catherine Greig

At the start of this year I would have said that I am pretty good at being vulnerable; I have learned the hard way to be OK with saying what I don’t know and asking for support…but blimey this is different.

I am sure that lots of people will be feeling the same way. Fear and mourning for our loved ones who are ill, combined with oscillating between gratitude for those that are still well and feeling overwhelmingly worried that this could shift at any moment.

And then there is work, layered on top of all this. Personally, I am feeling more concerned about team make:good’s wellbeing that my own; mainly because I’ve been in the hustle for long enough to know I can roll with it and adapt, but I am definitely struggling with working out how to lead a team remotely. I would have said that I am a very present and emotionally available leader, a force of positivity and that I try really hard to create the context for people to be their best.
Well, all of that seems impossible right now as I have very limited time, two young children to care for and, like all of us, my emotions are stretched pretty thin. I am also thinking a lot about the communities we are lucky enough to work with so closely, both on current and past projects, and wondering what I can do from afar. A heady mixture, ripe for some overwhelm, has pushed me to really think hard about getting vulnerable.

A mini segue here, because all this made me think about Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability – which is marvellous. If you haven’t heard her speak, she is great! Start off with listening to her ted talk here.
If that hooks you (like it did me) she is also a fab guest on Russel Brand’s podcast, and of course her own pod called Unlocking Us. Headline takeaway: vulnerability is where it’s at!

Last week I decided to embrace the vulnerability and think about how I can turn this feeling into some positive actions. So here goes, this is how we are going to behave.

Be considered, not panicked

We aren’t coming straight out of the gates with a new approach, we are thinking, trying and testing to make sure it works with client and community. A blanket approach won’t work here, sensitivity is key and adapting to audiences, clients and projects is crucial.

Be aware of our privilege

We are going to acknowledge our privilege and power as a relatively stable business, whilst being open about where and when we feel vulnerable. We will turn this into extra empathy, we live in an unequal world and Covid-19 is not impacting everybody equally, so we need to be extremely cognisant of that.

Be open and honest

We are going to talk more openly about the current situation’s impact on the business, without diminishing that health is THE most important thing right now.

…and these are things we are going to do to embrace and be open about our vulnerability:
Offer support to others in ‘ask make:good’ sessions
I get so many e-mails with people asking for help or advice on projects, setting up a business, tips & tricks for getting people involved, and so much more, so I am going to take some time to answer them and share the responses.
Shout out great work we see happening – because when I feel vulnerable, I can often withdraw into some jealously and feelings of inadequacy. So we are going to avoid that by celebrating the good work we see popping up and inspiring us.
Say that we’ve had projects cancelled and paused – so that other people know it’s not just them who’ve seen things come to a halt or put on pause.

Ask ‘make:good’
Projects on pause

I have been waiting and watching for somebody to articulate how I am feeling right now and haven’t seen it, so this is me putting my cards on the table and saying it first!

Sunny wishes, as always