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  • Dr. Catherine Florio Pipas

Humanism: Can I be human without being vulnerable?

In hierarchical structures like medicine, business and even within families, those at the top often feel compelled to provide their mentees the impression that they are infallible, invincible and unshakable. This occurs with doctors, executives and even parents who erroneously believe strength comes from denying weakness.

But does our strength as humans not come from experiencing a full spectrum of feelings, facing our daily fears and embracing failure as a lesson learned? Cultures that trains us to be “powerful” by ignoring our feelings, denying our fears and avoiding failure at all costs- create populations of individuals who try to rise above or more, often fall below the expectations of humanism.

If not human, then what do we become? SUPERHUMAN? Perhaps? Or, maybe SUBHUMAN? Believing ourselves invincible to basic needs, emotional contact and relationships creates unrealistic pressures and limits us to a one-dimensional realm of existence. Believing ourselves unworthy of the time needed for self-care or less important than other people or demands is no different and also limits our compassion for ourselves and ultimately for others.

True strength is born from the expression of vulnerability. Leaders who do so, live authentically, build trusting relationship, learn from others and give their students, mentees and children permission to do the same.

Catherine Florio Pipas April 2018

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