Today’s post is the featured article from the February 2011 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

john-newDo you remember the scene in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Oz is revealed? Even though already revealed, OZ isn’t ready to reveal himself. Toto, the smallest of all, had pulled back the curtain to reveal the real OZ. But OZ, realizing he has been revealed, looks out and quickly pulls the curtain shut again. “Ignore the man behind the curtain” he screams. But it doesn’t work. It is too late.

The miracle has already happened.

Revelation has already exposed what is real. It is in this moment of reality that genuine relationship begins. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion each personally understood this. On their own journey, together, they too had been revealed to what was real within them. In doing so, it created their ability to be in meaningful relationship.

I am surprised, by now, that we have not run out of material. I mean with all the curtains we weave and pull shut. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on corporate teambuilding in order to bridge surface-level relationships. Millions more are spent on image consultants to polish our veneer, wash our drapes … or even replace our thread-bare curtains with a thicker material.

It may mask, but it doesn’t change what is real.

Material is made by spinning. And it is exactly what we see in leaders, politicians and corporate communication. We used to call it propaganda … now we see it as a really well-spun story. The problem is … it is not real. And we know it.

As with OZ, most of us are guilty of this at some level. I think there is a reason for this. It is called vulnerability. Or the lack of it! We typically desire strong leaders. On the surface, who wants a vulnerable leader? We typically want to be in relationship with strong people not vulnerable ones. Even OZ didn’t believe he would be believable if he didn’t appear to be strong. On the surface, by definition, vulnerability seems to be about weakness. Most dictionaries will tell you so. But paradoxically, what if the weakness was simply the drapes hiding real genuine strength? Biblically, we are reminded that it is in our weakness that we are strong.

We seem to have a hard time believing it. Especially at work.

The truth is … we are all vulnerable. And we all know it. Often times, we just don’t want to acknowledge it. So stories are spun that blind us to what is real. We begin to believe the spin about others, about companies, and even about ourselves. Spin comes with a price in building genuine teams, meaningful collaboration and valuable results. The solution starts with each and every one of us.

I was recently introduced to Brene’ Brown’s extensive research on vulnerability from two completely different sources … both within the same week. I pay attention when that happens. It may seem vulnerability comes with a price. Brene’s video (15 minutes, but so worth the watch) powerfully points out the price of invulnerability. You might say it pulls back the drapes.

Imagine a leader, so strong, they found no threat in being vulnerable. No threat in being real. Imagine the example it would set … and the difference it would make. Imagine getting a dysfunctional team together and creating an environment where it was safe to open the drapes and encourage an authentically vulnerable conversation to begin.

It would change everything. It’s in what is real … we begin to heal.

Something tells me, in quick order, corporate cultures would begin to change. More genuine relationships would impact productivity and retention of great employees. Customer service would be transformed beyond surface-level transactional niceties. It might start to feel like the kind of place you really want to be … like home. And we all know … there’s no place like home. There’s no place like home!