Years ago, in a leadership training session, we utilized the Johari window model shown below. It was initially developed in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram to enhance communication in group settings by developing trust through sharing about yourself and learning about yourself by listening to what others said about you. The ultimate goal was to increase, in appropriate ways, the open area and reduce the other three areas. In this way, communication in the group would be improved and the work environment enhanced.
It’s really not difficult to interpret. The open area is what you know about yourself and others know about you. Things like family situation, education level, employment, number of children, etc.
The hidden area is what you know about yourself, but others don’t know about you. This includes anything about yourself and your life situation that you prefer to not talk about such as insecurities, hardship at home, etc..
The blind spot is what others know about you, but you don’t know about yourself. It can be as simple as nagging bad breath or spinach in your teeth.
Finally, the unknown area is what neither you nor others know about you. This is an exciting area because here reside undiscovered skills and future potential.
Ultimately, the more we know about one another, the better we will work together. It all sounds quite reasonable and, in many cases, will do just as it claims.
But this can be very frightening to accomplish. I have been listening to and reading about vulnerability and its effects on group dynamics in both personal and community settings. Most recently, I am praying that God would show me what it means to be vulnerable and how to live courageously.
And quite frankly, I’m terrified. I feel like I might throw up just talking about it in this forum and I haven’t even hit the “Publish” button.
You see, I am preaching at my church on Sunday. It isn’t the first time, so that shouldn’t be giving me dis-ease. And the topic is one I am familiar with and love talking about, so that shouldn’t give me dis-ease. I think it is the potential for fall out. There is a bit of uncertainty in the outcome; after all, one never knows exactly how things will come together.
Last week I made a poor decision and woke up the next day feeling so much shame. Shame didn’t say, “you made a poor decision.” It said, “you are a poor decision.” The voice went on to say I didn’t have any right to stand up and speak in front of anyone. After all, I failed.
I spoke it out loud to my daughter and successfully silenced the voice of shame. But shame is the “swamp land of my soul” to quote Brene’ Brown. And in the swampland of shame live gremlins who try to stop me from taking a risk and living vulnerably.
Shame lives in secrecy and silence. It reminds me of sci-fi creatures who live in dark, damp, secret places only coming out to torment the good guys. When the creatures are exposed to light, they dissolve. That is what we need to do when shame comes knocking. Too often, I am silent. I don’t want to tell someone I made a poor decision. It’s embarrassing. And what will people think?
But exposing shame as the slimy gremlin it is needs to happen. We need to shine the light of truth right in there and watch it dissolve away. Because the truth is, I am not a poor decision. I made a poor decision, but that is not who I am.
I don’t know yet what it means to live courageously nor what it means to be vulnerable and show up. I do know that I want to show up. And that will require courage and vulnerability. So here I am!
What is challenging you right now? Does shame have your ear? Have you stepped into the arena of courageous living? How are you living vulnerably in your place and time?
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26