Are you Competently Courageous?
Are you competently courageous? I can't take credit for this phrase. I have to give credit where credit is due. I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about seleting your battles and incrementally stepping up your game to speak your mind in instances of being marginalized or unheard. I did not agree with everything the author had to say. For instance, it was clear that they believed as long as you were competent that you might not lose your job if you spoke up. I want to tell you that as an executive coach, I would be remiss if I didn't warn you that even when you pick your battles carefully, and you make "suggestions for improvement" as you attempt to effect change if your firm does not have a growth mindset, you really, really might lose your job. It might not be today or tomorrow but know that is why they call it courage. Are you courageous or do you need to play it safe?
Last month, I was in a meeting as I muttered under my breath, 'let me say something,' after I had made several attempts to speak my mind and contribute an important point. They seemed to be selecting my battles, not me. When they finally let me have a turn at the mic because I was persistent, I could see their faces of disbelief. I recorded the moment on my phone. They didn't want to hear my point of view as they were determined to continue down the same path and sadly, as I know, get the same result. I wanted to play it back for myself so I could be 100% sure that I had communicated my thoughts clearly, succinctly, and with the passion that was needed in the moment, no more, no less. I wanted to play back my competence. I knew I had the courage.
Have you had it happen to you? I want you to know that it takes pioneers like us to take the initiative and yes let them know that they are sometimes wrong. They don't want to hear it, usually, but every now and then someone chooses to hear you, and that is the reason that we need to continue to be courageous even when we have to wait our turn. Who knows what could happen? You might save a life, or a young child, or the budget. You might go down in flames, or you might go down in history. The choice is yours, so are you competently courageous?