The other day, in a group training Zoom, I received a private message in the chat from another participant.
I am so grateful for your questions…. Your questions are so good. Your courage is inspiring.
Diving Into the Discomfort
We often talk about “leaning into the discomfort.” For better or for worse, my tendency is to dive head-first into the uncomfortable places.
In learning environments, I am often the one who speaks up to bring forward question or to challenge assumptions and beliefs. In other settings, I am known as someone who will voice her opinion, even if it’s not the “party line” of the industry or company.
Not everyone is willing to do this. It often makes people uncomfortable. But it’s necessary.
My chat with my classmate reminded me that for every question I ask, there is typically someone else who also harbors that question but is too afraid to speak up.
Whether it’s a classroom setting or speaking up about issues in my industry, I’ve learned that if there’s something on my mind, it’s likely percolating for someone else too.
Sometimes they don’t realize it until it is spoken aloud.
It’s not always easy to speak up. Speaking up makes you visible, and if what you have to say isn’t the dominant opinion, it can put a target on your back.
I’ve received flack for comments I’ve made or questions I’ve asked. My remarks and questions are not always as well-received as those from others.
I don’t always say what people want to hear.
An Issue of Integrity
It would be out of integrity for me to not speak up, to back away from challenging the status quo or the assumptions and beliefs that other people hold.
It’s my nature to look at an issue from all sides. My learning style is active and engaged. I wrestle with concepts, questioning, pushing back, and poking holes to explore their edges. Sometimes I play devil’s advocate, adopting an alternate viewpoint I don’t necessarily believe, just to test the waters.
Someone has to do this.
Otherwise you’re creating an echo chamber where everyone agrees with you, and that does nothing to push ideas forward.
Growth requires resistance. Just like we need something to push against to make us stronger, our ideas need resistance to become stronger.
People don’t always like this; mostly because it makes them uncomfortable.
I don’t always like it, either. But it’s necessary.
Our Job is to Challenge the Status Quo
At all times, and especially now, the work for all of us is to speak up, to challenge what we see and the assumptions and beliefs behind what we are told.
This is how we will ask better questions that lead to better ideas and better solutions. If nobody is willing to ask, if we just sit back and accept what people tell us, we give away our power to make a change.
I am learning to embrace that part of my role in life is to speak up, because others won’t or can’t.
I’m not here to make you comfortable. That’s not my job.
If you’re looking for someone to parrot the party line, get a parrot.