The Naked Leader (TEDxTalkBirminghamSalon 2014)

TEDxTalkBirminghamSalon 2014
TEDxTalkBirminghamSalon 2014

After almost five years organizing in the immigrant rights movements, watching families torn as a result of a very broken immigration system, fighting against those who insist on calling them “illegals” tearing apart their humanity; after helping workers recover their unpaid wages, and dealing with dishonest and abusive employers.

After starting a completely new life from when losing my pastoral position at a church when I came out, and moving twice to entirely unknown places . Losing my father, buried under a massive mountain of debt. Reaching the 300 lbs mark in weight, and heavily smoking. I found myself in a very deep and profound depression, trying to make sense, not of the past, nor the future, but of the reality of the present.

That is when I realized that in order to overcome myself I needed to change the way I was doing leadership in the community. I needed to do something radical: I got naked by complaining, you know, I started whining on Facebook

You can’t remove the humanity from everything we do. We All suffer from VMHB, or better known in my dictionary as Very Messy Human Being. My workout coach once gave me the title of the second whiniest person at the box.

But, you see, this is the reality, whining represents our true self and humanity; It’s what reminds us of our failures. It reveals the fragility of our soul. Who said that whining is evil? Everybody’s parent, teacher, or leader. You know it is there but nobody wants to accept it. We pay counsellors so we can whine for 15 minutes because is therapeutic, I am pretty sure there are some people here already whining about my talk this evening. I am giving you permission to whine.

But to this we add our own vulnerability to others.  In our society we are taught the contrary, to never show off our emotions or our true selves, because it is a sign of weakness. Vulnerability helps us share who we are, and keeps us pushing to get stronger, and better.

The glue that holds everything together …. Is community.

Interactions with community help us cope with the difficulties we face in our daily life and the true substance of community is belonging. It’s finding that in order to celebrate who we are, we need to discover who we are in others. 

If we want to belong, sometimes we need to whine, when we whine we are sharing, and become vulnerable, and we will connect our humanity with others, when we connect, we form community, and community helps us to overcome ourselves.

This is the naked leader, when we become unafraid to show exactly who we are in order to be able to connect with the same community we are serving.

Let me tell you that if you want to be a strong leader in your community, you need to be willing to show your weaknesses to others.

It is time for you to get naked.

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