Photo by Oshomah Abubakar on Unsplash

I’ve been writing recently about finding our voice – that fear that comes with knowing we’ve got something important to say that might cause another person to change or think differently, and learning how to share those humble thoughts gently.

There is a shift that must take place in between when we realise that we’ve got something of value to share with another, and when we have the confidence to act on it.

It’s not about giving advice, or thinking we know better. This type of leadership requires a pivot from consumer to creator.

To be a person who says something worthy, we must acknowledge that people are going to listen to us. One step further? There are people who need to listen to us.

Before we are able to give what is bubbling away inside us, we must first conquer the mountain (or the mammoth) of ‘what other people think’.

Borrowed from the brilliant Tim Urban of ‘Wait but Why’ – check him out here

We are scared of a few things.

We might be wrong, and people laugh at how mistaken we are.

We might have someone who so vehemently disagrees with us, it threatens a friendship. It pisses them off. You make them angry or scared. They tell everyone how awful you are.

But that’s unlikely, especially when we’re just finding our feet.

More likely that the fear isn’t some amorphous “other”. It probably shares a home, an office or a meal with us.

What is my wife pulls me aside and tells me I’m out of line?
What if my father says I need to be careful about what I’m saying?
What if the person I’m trying to impress is, in fact, not even slightly?

On the other hand, we might be right. Then we must act the way we said we would.

We stood up for something we believed was true, right, fair, correct. We are now being held to new standards.

When we say what we think is right, we will not always be. What will that then make us? A hypocrite? Inadequate? Deluded?  

Still yet, we might put in all this effort and confront the resistance and create something we’re proud of, and it doesn’t cause a ripple. We are totally ignored.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Oscar Wilde

Did I ever have anything worthy to say to begin with?

The doubt that echoes in our ears when we aren’t instantly adored threatens to swallow our conviction that what we had to say was worth listening to. We’re an absolute imposter. We cower back in our corner, swearing never to stick our head above the sand again. The tall poppy claims another victim.

My guess is that one of these outcomes scares you more than the others.

When you’ve harnessed the courage to say what you need to say, you need to know how your lizard brain is going to try and shut you up.

For me, it’s the fear of what those closest to me will say. Because they know me the best, they know where I’m hiding. They’ll sit me down or send me a message, and tell me their truth.

Who have I forgotten? What doesn’t make sense? Where has my privilege and the Dunning-Kruger effect and my confirmation bias blinded me? Will they use my own words against me?

I am learning to reframe these conversations as opening me up to a new point of view. As Cat Hoke says, “You can’t be angry and curious at the same time.” I am trying to take the fear out and replace it with curiosity – where is this person coming from? What do they see that I don’t?

I need to remember who to trust, whose advice is worth my time, and to whom I can politely say, ‘that’s OK, this wasn’t for you’, and keep writing.

That’s what this process is about – learning to express myself in a way that connects with others and shows them what they need to see. I have to believe I have something worthy to say, otherwise I wouldn’t write. That does not often come easily or kindly though.

It’s a process, and morning by morning I’m learning to rewrite the narrative upstairs and find the words inside that mean something to me and might connect with you.

As the altMBA taught me, feedback is a gift. I’m very much open to yours, if you’d like to share it. That’s the only way this space can be refined.

Click on ‘Contact me here’ to get in touch.

I’m learning to be curious.

Photo taken in Singapore in 2009