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A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about risk taking, and what we’ve learned from a skateboarder and a Hollywood stuntman. Their perspectives helped us to think about how to manage and assess risk for ourselves and how these insights might shape the way we help aid workers and organizations prepare for high-risk environments.
Just recently Jim invited Chheng Ear, to come share her thoughts on risk-taking with the HI staff. Chheng is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, and is currently a staff therapist at a community mental health center near County USC Hospital. We knew going into her presentation that she had a remarkable story of survival as a young child, fleeing from the Khmer Rouge, facing incredible odds to escape and make it the US, with her family. Knowing this sliver of information, we thought she would have profound insight into handling risk. She did. But in a different way than we expected.
As her story unfolded, it was clear that she and her family demonstrated great courage and perseverance to respond and react to the dangerous environment surrounding them. But they had no choice in the risks they were taking, because this was the reality they were living in. She and her family experienced hardship, rejection, and loss as well as kindness, generosity, and resourcefulness. As she reflected on her past, and her life now, she mentioned that even with all that she has lived through and accomplished, actually talking with us and telling us her story was a big risk for her.
Through Chheng’s presentation we learned that maybe the biggest risk we can take is to share our story, to share who we are fully with others. In some ways, this takes more courage than performing dangerous stunts or working to manage a high-risk situation. As Brene Brown says: “Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage.” Thank you Chheng, for sharing your powerful story with humility, authenticity, and courage. We are changed and transformed because of it.
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