Vulnerability for Nonprofits

This post is part of a series on Vulnerability.  If you are new here you may want to start with this post.  

Jenny Mitchell, Chavender Inc.

If you’ve been hanging out here for awhile you know I’m a big fan of Brené Brown and her research around the value of expressing vulnerability.  So when my friend and client Jenny Mitchell of Chavender Inc.  wrote about how this video changed her view of what nonprofit board members need to do their best work  I knew I wanted to share it here.

Jenny says:

. . .with Brené’s video in mind, what kind of a Board are you building? Are you creating a sense of belonging around the table? Are you cultivating authenticity and opportunities for connections to happen? Brené talks about “excruciating vulnerability” being directly on the path towards a sense of connectedness among humans. And yet, most not-for-profit professionals would laugh out loud if I told them that I was building a “vulnerable board” to fully support my cause.

According to Brené’s definition of vulnerability, the first step towards finding a sense of belonging is to “put yourself out there and be vulnerable.” With that definition in mind, what kind of opportunities can you provide for Board members so that they experience this sense of connection?

Read the full post at

While you are over there, be sure to check out some of Jenny’s other posts as well.  This one is my favorite.

Be Vulnerable with Yourself

This post is part of a series on Vulnerability.  If you are new here you may want to start with this post.  

Does the idea of sharing your deepest fears and darkest secrets–or even your personality quirks–make you want to throw up?

Do you believe (or worry) the people you love are more interested in what you do for them than for who you are?

Are you afraid if you quit earning your keep, even for a moment, you’ll be “voted off the island?”

Defining Shame

All of these feelings come from the same place:  a deep seeded fear that at our core we are unlovable–and that if anyone finds out, we will be cast out.  Brené Brown explains it best.

Because shame works by making us feel alone,  it’s very hard to talk about it–even to the people who love us most– for fear that if they knew what we were really like they would leave.  Ironically, it is that very act of secrecy that allows shame to maintain its hold on us.

Therefore, talking about shame experiences as soon as they happen with a trusted friend is healthy, beneficial and much easier said than done. Continue reading

Prerequisite to Innovation, Creativity and Change

We spend most of our time here talking about you, your dreams for making the world a better place, and the tools you need to make those dreams come true.

After watching this TED Talk video this week I realized I skipped an important step.

Before we can change the world, we must change our definitions of strength and weakness.  And we must start with ourselves.

This is the part of the post where I would normally give you 3-7 ideas for how to make the change we are talking about.

In this case, I think it’s too soon.

Instead, just watch the video.  If you have thoughts you’d like to share, questions or struggles, I’d love to hear them in the comments.  If, like one person I spoke with, you watch the video and can’t find words that capture your reaction, that’s cool too.

Once we’ve all had some time to process I’ll follow up with more posts about vulnerability, what it means for us and our work, and how we might achieve it.

P.S. If you’d like to see more you can watch Brené Brown’s TEDx Houston speech. (The one with the “Breakdown” slide.) here.