The thoughts that hold us back

laelene Post in general blog

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I’ve been watching a lot of Sheryl Sandberg and almost every speech is about that. Empowering yourself by stripping away fear and facing it head on. Identifying what it is that you’re afraid to do, then going and doing it.

What I’ve wanted to do for a long time is discuss some of the internal challenges that we face at my company. There have been a lot of things going on that are far from ideal and it makes me wonder if those running the company are not aware of these things or if they don’t find it a priority. I want to at least bring it up so it’s in their conscious, if it’s not already. And if it is, I’d like to convince them that these issues I’ve noticed are important.

Sheryl’s message of leaning in made me think about some of the thoughts and beliefs that hold me back from the things I want to do. One of the saddest things is the people in my life who don’t get it. Time and time again, the people I’ve told have said, “Don’t do it.”

The message is clear. Don’t bring up issues in the workplace, you’ll look like a whiner. Don’t open up a line of communication lest they think you’re out to get them. Don’t put your job in jeopardy. Don’t say anything. Don’t do it.

These are the philosophies that hold me back. They give me pause whenever I want to stand up for what I believe in. I’m not exactly afraid of losing my job, if that would actually happen (which I honestly don’t think would). So what am I afraid of?

It’s actually not that my family and friends will think of me differently. It’s that they’ve given me doubt as to whether I’ll be able to express myself and communicate what I’m trying to effectively. Because I believe that if it comes out right, my company will see that I care about improving it, that I want to do that. I’m not pointing out problems I’ve experienced just to complain about it, but because I want to work on a way forward. Yet I can see that this intention can easily be misconstrued and it sort of happened before.

So I’m afraid of how lightly I might need to tread. Will I inadvertently set off a landmine even as I seek a clear path to something better? I know in theory what I’d like to share, but I can’t control how it will be interpreted. That’s the greatest danger. But instead of pointing out all the reasons not to, I wish my loved ones would support me and brainstorm with me. What I need is allies, not contrarians.

If you have any thoughts that are holding you back, do whatever you need to give yourself permission to do what you want. I’ve wanted to do this for so long that I know I will regret it if I don’t. Now it’s off to drafting notes and practicing what I might say. I’ve got to be true to myself.

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