Tag Archives: vulnerability

Structural Integrity

…The ability of something to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it or in it. 

Each building is designed to hold its own weight of construction as well as whatever is placed inside of it. 

I’m sitting in my home right now and trusting that those who built the house followed the design of the architect, put enough screws and nails in place and built the house without “cutting corners”. If the house was not built to withstand its own weight, than a strong wind, or furniture that I put inside would weaken its connections and cause it to crumble – with me inside of it.

There is a challenge that was designed by Tom Wujec called the Marshmallow challenge. Teams of people are given 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to build the tallest free-standing structure that will hold the weight of the marshmallow on top. The marshmallow cannot be eaten, divided up into different parts, but you can utilize all the other items to build the tallest structure that will hold the marshmallow. The TED Talk can be seen below…

Sound easy? This challenge has been given to executives, CEOs, teachers, college students, and even kindergartners. Which group do you think scored the best?

The ones who scored the highest were …

The Kindergartners!

Why is it that children understand that the structural integrity of the spaghetti/tape/string tower is best when the structural integrity of the team is sound? No one is trying to gain power. No one is trying to be the one who gets the credit. There is the task, the team and the goal to be the highest tower to win the prize.

There is something to this…

Have you ever thought of the blueprints to meaningful relationships would help build a strong team in order to reach a goal – together – without one person rising to the top as the “winner”?

Relationships are only as strong as the structure the relationship is built upon. So often the leader of a group gets the “glory” or the “credit” for the completed goal, or the ongoing success.

Don’t get me wrong It takes creative, inspirational leadership to keep a team moving in the right direction, but that is only one part of the structure. The entire structure needs to be built in such a way that the team can withstand its own weight (all of the personalities on the team), a strong wind (pressures from outside influences, unforeseen setbacks to the goal, people leaving the team, new people coming on) and the furniture that we put inside (the systems and processes we put in place to set the scene when we work together).

When relationships are strong, mutual respect is shown, each person working in their strengths and complementing the weaknesses of others, there is a harmony that happens. That harmony creates the environment by which people can work toward a common goal and not worry about who rises to the top or who takes the lead. It is an environment where people understand that the integrity of the team is necessary and protected.

Are there perfect relationships? Absolutely… NOT! However, there are relationships that can withstand the test of time, adversity and emotion.


The principle of Structural integrity – the ability to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it.

Trust, Vulnerability, Love, Hope, Support, Respect, Honesty, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Good Communication, Connection, Purpose, Authenticity, and a host of others are the building blocks to a relationship that can last a lifetime.

This kind of relationship was designed by the Great Architect – God Himself. His purpose in creating us was to be in relationship with us and us with each other. If you desire a strong, structurally sound relationship with anyone, it will need to be built with these characteristics so they can hold together and withstand whatever load is placed on it (whether externally or emotionally).

To learn more about the Lost Art of Relationship, keep on reading at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com .



Do You Trust Me?

Your answer to this question may be in the form of another question…

“To do what?”

You would do well not to answer the question, “Do you trust me?” without understanding the focus of the question.

Trust is often misunderstood, and by relatively intelligent individuals. Onora O’Neill (philosopher) postures that saying we need more trust is a “stupid aim” and that we should not be focused on building more trust, but trusting those who are trustworthy, more and those who are untrustworthy, less. **

Would we even need to ask the question “Do you trust me?” if we simply proved we were trustworthy by our actions and our words?

One of the building blocks of a relationship is Trust. So often we expect others to trust us without proving we are trustworthy first. We expect others to give us their trust simply because we ask for it.

However, Trust is the result of trustworthiness.** How can you prove trustworthiness?

O’Neill believes trustworthiness will have three components present: competency, reliability, and honesty.**

I used to tell my daughters while they were growing up (still do actually) that lying is wrong because it has the power to destroy a relationship very quickly. Lying and being caught in a lie is like napalm – it can flare up and burn out a relationship charring it beyond repair. Honesty is a key part of trustworthiness.

Competency literally means you have shown skill and ability in a particular area. I trust my ophthalmologist to treat issues and illnesses of my eyes, but I would not trust him or her with treating the issues I have with my knees.

Reliability means you are dependable, devoted, faithful, truthful and loyal. There are those in your life that are competent at a certain skill, are honest in their words, but you may not trust them to keep an appointment because they are forgetful and therefore not reliable.

Trust is tricky. We try to generalize it, however, in reality it is complex and multi-faceted. There are different levels of trust. You wouldn’t trust a ten-year old to drive your car. You wouldn’t trust someone you just met to house-sit, unless you did a background check and had them sign a form stating they are 100% responsible for all of your belongings while you are away (of course, that’s not trust at all, is it?).  

You wouldn’t trust your dog alone with your fried chicken dinner. You certainly wouldn’t trust your mechanic to fly a jetliner on your trip to another country.

When you give trust to someone in some particular area of expertise, it is usually because they have proven they are willing and able to fulfill a certain task, assignment or a need.

This speaks to competence.

Why would you go get a second opinion from another doctor? Why would you get a second opinion on your car for a particular repair? Why would you talk to another friend regarding a situation you are facing after you just asked advice from the first one?

This is a test of honesty.

When you give a time and a place for someone to meet you, and they don’t show up, you are more likely going to have difficulty trusting that same person when you give them another place and time to meet.

This refers to reliability.

When trying to build a relationship with someone – whether it is a work relationship, friendship, romantic relationship or a family relationship – in order to develop trust between you and someone else, you need to prove you are trustworthy before you can be trusted. You would not expect anything less from someone else in order to for you to trust him or her.

Perhaps trust is so difficult to give and trustworthiness difficult to determine because there are many counterfeits vying for our attention, our money, our time and talents. To what end are the objects of our trust trying to obtain? Does the person or group we are placing our trust have our best interests at heart? For that matter, do we have the best interests of others in the forefront of our minds?

There are tens of thousands of attorneys in this country. There are lawsuits literally filling up dockets all across the nation. Why are we such a litigious society? Could it be that we have given up on proving trustworthiness because it is so difficult to prove?

I used to give trust more readily than I do now. Skepticism is the result of broken trust throughout the years. I look more toward a person’s trustworthiness before I give trust. Unfortunately, it is possible to sway more toward the skeptical side of thinking when you get burned too many times.

When building relationships with others – I am now trying to focus more on proving my own trustworthiness before expecting others to trust me. It doesn’t mean I automatically trust others. In the process of proving my own trustworthiness, I am surprised at how someone’s true colors become known and show whether they are trustworthy as well.

Trust depends on the other person giving it to you. Trustworthiness doesn’t depend on others; it depends on you and I. What would it look like if we lived in such a way with each other where we proved our own mettle before expecting to be given their trust? Would we even need so many levels of accountability (which are in place because of those who have proven untrustworthy)?

Also, when we take the perspective that we need to prove our trustworthiness before trust can be exchanged, we may even be accepted sooner than later. Just remember, proving trustworthiness takes time.

It is an extremely valuable part of relationships.

Just one final thought: referring back to the most recent posts on vulnerability – O’Neill also points out that if you show a level of vulnerability, it has a positive effect on your ability to prove trustworthy**.


**Onora O’Neill. (2013). What we don’t understand about trust. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PNX6M_dVsk

Vulnerability – Part Two

“You’re the captain of this ship. You have no right to be vulnerable.” Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock on the TV Series Star Trek (1966-1969).

Being vulnerable means admitting we have fear and shame. Admitting we have fear and shame make us feel vulnerable.  The cycle drives us to pretend, to put up a facade and to act like something we are not. 

According to Brene Brown (researcher and storyteller), there are several reactions we have to the fear and shame of vulnerability…**

We make the uncertain, certain”: rigid ritual (instead of relationship), which says, “I’m right, you’re wrong, shut up, that’s it.”

We blame others for why we feel the way we feel.” When we blame others, it is a way to discharge our own shame, vulnerability and discomfort. If we highlight the fault in others, we believe it will take the focus off of our own faults.

We perfect. We try to look perfect, act perfect, and teach perfect.” But what we NEED to do is understand we are IMPERFECT, and teach others and ourselves that even though we are imperfect, we are worthy of love and belonging because we are human.

We pretend that what we do does not have an affect or impact on people.” We do this in our jobs, our families and our friendships. Sometimes all we need to do is be vulnerable and say we are sorry – to help build connection with others. Every action has an affect on someone else. 

The fear of vulnerability separates us in relationship from others. Embracing vulnerability strengthens our relationship with others, when done in a trusting setting. In order to create a trusting setting, each person needs to prove they are “trustworthy.”

According to Brown,** with my thoughts added to her instructions from her research, there are ways we can build connection with others. This will deepen your relationship with those you choose to build it with.

 “Let yourself be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.”

This requires confession. You cannot hide who you really are if you desire a deep meaningful connection with someone else. Confessing to each other requires vulnerability. Vulnerability may even eradicate hypocrisy. Wouldn’t that be something!

Vulnerability is necessary when building relationships others. Everyone has issues. When you let someone see you, vulnerably, you become more accessible emotionally.

Love with our whole hearts, even if there is NO guarantee. This is hard, even excruciatingly difficult.”

Loving another person requires that we come to a place of loving ourselves, forgiving ourselves, caring for ourselves, and understanding we are worthy of love and belonging.

Practice gratitude and lean on joy.

Gratitude is another lost art. The human condition has turned inward and we expect gratitude without freely giving it to others. It’s the thank you provided for a small random act of kindness. It is the tip you give because you see your waiter or waitress has gone out of their way to help you.

When you practice gratitude, you actually begin to feel more joyful. The constant intentional focus on gratitude will eventually guide your thoughts away from the negative and allow you to be more vulnerable.

How? If you are grateful for what you have, you become content in whatever state you find yourself in, because it could always be worse.

Understand that we are enough.”

It is a dangerous place to find yourself when you are constantly thinking you don’t have what it takes to make a difference.

Who you are NOW, what you have learned up to NOW, has given you everything you need to make a difference, NOW. It doesn’t mean you stop learning and growing. It does mean you don’t have to wait to build meaningful relationships with others.


Embrace vulnerability.

Let your actions be a catalyst for LIFE CHANGE in someone else’s life.

What we do DOES have an impact on those around us.  If we hide our vulnerability, we will only develop surface relationships. If we embrace our vulnerability, we might be surprised at the strength we feel in relationship with others who are trustworthy and develop much more meaningful friendships.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  How has embracing vulnerability been a strength for you?  Have you experienced a negative experience when you were vulnerable with someone you could NOT trust?  

Leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion.  



**YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-19066

Connection – The Starting Point

There is a scientific notion that has caught on in mass culture. In 1961, MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz created a computer program that simulated weather.*[1] Lorenz performed long-term forecasts with this simulation. One day, he made a change to one of a dozen numbers in the simulation used to represent atmospheric conditions. This may not mean anything to most of us, but that one change was in the number .506127 rounded to .506. That one small modification completely altered his long-term forecast. That subtle change in the simulation could amount to the wind displacement of a butterfly’s wings.

Because of this astounding effect, Lorenz wrote a paper in 1972 entitled, “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” In the paper, Lorenz presents a practical flaw. The flaw is that there is no way to determine if the butterfly’s flapping wings caused a tornado, or prevented one. The other issue is that once the butterfly flaps its wings, whatever change happened because of the flutter cannot be undone. In essence, the calculations are so intricate and precise, and there are too many variables involved to determine if an actual tornado was caused by a butterfly’s flapping wing. HOWEVER, the possibility is still there. I encourage you to click on the link in the reference at the bottom of this post to read the entire article about Lorenz. 

This concept is a deeply philosophical conversation, but can easily refer us back to our connections with each other. The only difference is the flap of a butterfly’s wings is natural and it will happen regardless of any positive or negative outcomes. It’s not as if the butterfly can decide to flap its wings or not because they will never know the effect they have on nature.

However, in our relationships we have more control over our actions and words than a butterfly does over its wings. It can be argued that one negative word said from a parent to a child in their developmental stage can play a large role in the life of that young one. One careless word spoken from a believer to a non-believer can drive that non-believer further away from God, yet, one intentional word or action showing God’s love can drive that non-believer closer to a relationship with God.

Our daily connections with others can have a lasting influence long after an interaction, a conversation, or a brief encounter with someone. Yet, if we do not practice connecting with others on a regular basis, we will never know WHO or WHAT we could have influenced for good.


For us to truly understand the weight of our responsibility, we need to go back and look at why and how we are connected and the obstacles we face in our relationships that can be overcome, if we grasp the why and how.

Genesis 2:18:  It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

Going all the way back to the beginning, we know that we were never meant to be alone in this world. Even God saw the need for us to connect in meaningful relationships with others.

Sitting on a plane, in a classroom, in church, at work; standing in a grocery store line, walking in your neighborhood, living in the same town, coming from the same state – ALL of these are starting points that help us to connect with people at the most basic level. They are entryways to relationship. They are connection points. The only thing keeping us from walking through those entryways is a decision.

There is a Research Professor from the University of Houston Graduate College, author and speaker named Brene Brown, who gave a talk regarding her research about connection with others.[2] (Click on the link in the reference section below to view her TED Talk where this information originated). In her talk she says… 

     Connection is why we are here. It is what gives us purpose in our lives. Connection and the feeling of being connected is biological. (We see this from the passage in Genesis, where God takes the rib from Adam and creates Eve. All of mankind stems from that first creation.) There are two obstacles that can enter into our minds when we reach the entryway to relationship with someone…

  1. Shame: the fear of connection. This says, if someone gets to know me for what I really am, I will feel shame
  2. Fear: This says, “I’m not good enough. I’m not handsome enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not knowledgeable enough. I’m not _________ enough.

When we reach the entryway into relationship through a connection point, we need to come to the place where we have to allow ourselves to “be seen”. In other words, it is being vulnerable – excruciating vulnerability. For most of us, vulnerability is a dirty word.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Genesis 2:25 says: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

There was no shame. There was no fear. They were completely vulnerable to the other.

There was what Brene Brown calls a “sense of worthiness, a strong sense of belonging.” Adam and Eve believed they were worthy of love and belonging. For some of us, we have trouble grasping the idea that we are “worthy” of love and belonging. For believers, this should be what drives us to relationship with others, but we allow the feeling of “unworthiness” to rob us of meaningful relationships.

There was a study done at the University of Houston Graduate College that discovered for those who believe they are worthy of love and belonging, they had a sense of courage, compassion and connection with others. They had the courage to be imperfect; the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, and they were able to connect with others as a result of their authenticity in relationship. Those in the study were willing to let go of who they thought they SHOULD BE, in order to BE WHO THEY REALLY ARE to connect with other people. (See reference section and click on link to Brene Brown’s video to hear more).

To get to this point, you need to embrace vulnerability. What makes you vulnerable is makes you beautiful. We ALL are sinful. We ALL need a Savior. We ALL need to confess this need. Vulnerability will be the subject of the next post. 

What are your thoughts? Add your comment. Let’s have a discussion about the basic foundation of relationship – connection. 


[1] * Dizikes, Peter. (2014, June 8). The Meaning of the Butterfly. Retrieved June 1, 2014 from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/06/08/the_meaning_of_the_butterfly/?page=full

[2] YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-19066