By Jay Forte
Over the weekend of March 24-25, 2018, millions of people – led by student activists –walked, marched and carried signs demanding greater and saner gun laws. It took a series of horrific events to unify them into a formidable powerhouse, focused on inspiring change.
This is a learning experience on a number of levels. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on action. On taking a stand. On finding your voice. On becoming the change you want to see in your world.
Too many of us sit back and wait for others to step up and take action on issues or situations that are important to us. But there are so many places in your day where you have the ability to define what you stand for and then actually stand up for what you believe. It can be something seemingly simple like developing the technology rules for your house to manage your kids’ connection time. It can be something a little more challenging, like standing up to a bully at school or at work (yes, there is actually more bullying going on in the workplace than at schools). It can be something that is deeply important to you, like mobilizing to do something about the sugar in our foods or the number of plastic water bottles floating in our oceans.
So what stops us?
- Fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of reprisal. Fear of being ostracized. Fear for our job. We play out stories of what could happen to us if we post how we really feel about something on Facebook or Twitter, or what could happen if we speak out about something we don’t think is right at our workplace, church or in our community. We are afraid to challenge the status quo, even when the status quo is outdated, unreasonable and needs changing.
- Lack of self-awareness. Many of us don’t know our talents, strengths and abilities. We fail to see how capable we are, that we have what it takes to stand up, use our voice and look to make things better. Because we don’t know how capable we are, we doubt ourselves and yield to the louder voices around us. This keeps us quiet and overlooking things instead of taking a stand to support, defend, challenge or resist. Developing your self-awareness helps you find your inner greatness and values that become your voice as you look at your world and hold yourself accountable to making a difference.
I applaud the student movement that sees the value of life as a greater value than having automatic weapons – and for having the courage, the confidence and the resilience to demand something better, share what they think and hold us all accountable – for taking a stand. Whether you agree or disagree with their message, they are holding themselves accountable for being the change.
As Winston Churchill said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
When you get tapped by an event, person or circumstance, will you step up or step back? Will you raise your voice or go down to a whisper?
The world is built by the people who are right here, right now. Stand up for what you think is right. Commit to what makes the world a better, happier, kinder, more loving and safer place. Then find your role in it and take a stand. You could be the one who changes things for the better.
Important Questions from a Coach:
- What is one thing you can do today to start to raise your voice on a situation, issue or event that matters to you?
- How can you become more self-aware to recognize the places where your voice can and should be heard?
- How can you hold yourself accountable for being the change on an issue that matters to you?