Writing this article, I discovered that I have some truly strange and very unconscious beliefs about speaking out for what I believe. (Yikes!)
For example, I unconsciously expect folks taking a stand to have one viewpoint to the exclusion of any other idea or possibility. To be rigid and uncompromising. I expect to dislike and distrust them. I expect these people to mostly be white, middle-aged, male, and dictator-like. (really strange!) I expect them to not understand me, my experience, or what’s important to me. Basically, I expect them to be big-mouthed idiots shoving their beliefs down my throat.
No wonder I balk at taking a stand. No wonder I resist planting my staff and claiming a viewpoint. Why would I want to become an obnoxious, untrustworthy, dictator-like jerk?
Of course, authentic truth speaking is nothing like that…
Taking a stand doesn’t mean I need to knock someone else over. Speaking my opinion doesn’t mean I need to stop hearing what everyone else is saying. Neither action means that I can’t keep my mind and heart open, or that I am unwilling to shift my stance based on new information.
Authentic truth speaking comes from an open heart and invites conversation, disagreement, differing viewpoints. Taking a stand authentically invites people to know you, and opens the door for you to know them.
Speaking your heart opens the way to trust.
Good girl? Or someone to trust…
Most of us got the “good girl” training. We were taught to hang with people with whom we agree. Challenging conversations were not encouraged. Real dialog that includes disagreement and confusion wasn’t a skill most of us learned. Don’t rock the boat. Stay silent.
When we have an opinion but choose a carefully silent neutrality it’s like there’s a neon sign blinking “inauthentic” over our heads. Even if we think we’re doing it to keep the peace or so we don’t offend anyone. People can just feel when neutrality is a farce. And, who wants to buy from, work with, have relationships with someone we don’t trust?
When we don’t rock the boat things may stay the same. But, is that what we really want? Aren’t we in this to make a difference?
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” Margaret J. Wheatley
Finding an authentic way to take a stand feels really urgent, now. At the risk of taking a strong stance of my own, I don’t think we can hang around in the neutral zone any longer. There are conversations to be had. Change to make. Daughters and nieces and all manner of young women and men to mentor into raising their full, strong voices, starting conversations, finding ways to trust.
In her book Turning to One Another Margaret Wheatley quotes a Buddhist teacher she once met. He says, “It’s our turn to help the world.”
Well, yes, it is. We need to speak our minds and hearts authentically. We need to invite conversation. We need to get to know and trust each other.
We need to be doing this NOW.