No matter who I spoke to this week and last, there was this very subtle emptiness in their voices. It made me wonder what that was all about.
It dawned on me after giving a speech at Bainbridge Graduate Institute's MBA program that perhaps the emptiness had to do with empowerment, or lack of empowerment. I got lots of questions about being heard in a corporate setting and I heard huge amounts of frustration and disappointment around this feeling of 'holding back' and 'not saying what is so.'
That brought me to the understanding that people want to know HOW to speak up. That floored me. HOW to speak up is obvious, right? We just load our brains, and shoot off our mouths. Oh no, this was not what the real question was. The real question had a twist.
How do I speak up AND avoid risking my career and paycheck?
Whoa, and there it is, the fear. Let's call it what it is, and maybe we can shift it. The very foundation of who we are as a society requires us to speak up, ask difficult questions, and know that we are safe to do so. When did it become so unsafe? Where are the pockets of openness, honesty, and genuine dialogue that honor our contributions and support our accountability?
What I find right now is a genuine knowledge and wisdom just waiting to burst forth into open exchange. There is a strong desire for change, and a passionate awareness of the need, no the urgency, to change. And, there is silence.
This silence is a gaping hole; we appease others, and go along, and don't rock the boat. I've been there myself. Not wanting to risk being seen as the one who spoils dinner, who stirs the simmering pot of conflict, I remained silent. And I watched as the cultures of those companies I worked for and where I witnessed this pattern, diminished, slowly at first, and then rapidly.
The way forward is in cultures of openness, thoughtful patient dialogue, connectedness, and engagement. Cultures that embrace discomforting discussion, and allow the full range of self expression within the boundaries of respect and integrity
Ask yourself today: where are you in appeasement? Where do you choose to remain silent when your inner voice would have you speak up to shift a discussion or a decision? Do you work in a place that honors your voice and your wisdom? And if not, how come you work there?
The Truth stands on its own, is heard for itself, and withstands even the harshest of critiques. Speak the Truth, say what is so, and be known as a person of high integrity. We need your leadership, NOW.