On the Value of Vulnerability and Courage | wisconsinacademy.org
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On the Value of Vulnerability and Courage

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about resilience, the invaluable quality that is essential to maintaining daily life during times of crisis and which is also the underpinning of great achievements. While I agree that resilience is highly valuable, I think there is another quality we’ve developed over the pandemic which, while less celebrated, holds important power.

In the past few years, we have had to learn new things, become familiar with new technologies, new ways of doing our work, and accomplishing our domestic tasks. We have often done this with an audience. We have had to learn and fumble in front of one another—our peers, our bosses, even people such as our doctors. And along the way, we’ve helped others, who like us, may have been clumsy or embarrassed or confused when trying to do something new. This has helped create an environment conducive to adapting, experimenting, and learning.

Becoming more comfortable with uncertainty, with learning in public, with helping one another navigate the challenges facing us—these qualities should be recognized and lauded. We should continue experimenting and being a little uncomfortable. This is the space for innovation and growth.

As I think about the mosaic artists featured in our cover article, their achievements show their skill, vision, and confidence. Yet, I am also grateful for their vulnerability and courage, so essential in taking risks. Their willingness to explore materials and take new approaches has given us work that is truly monumental.


Erika Monroe-Kane is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. In a range of professional settings, Monroe-Kane has distinguished herself as an innovator, collaborator, and strategic-thinker.

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