Be The Change You Want To See
“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it” – Oprah
In order to stand out, one must be different. I have always loved the saying “why fit in when you were born to stand out?” by Dr. Seuss. For me it was really hard to make this change, as I had spent most of my life being invisible.
I love using the analogy of a rainbow. It isn’t just made up of red, yellow, blue, green, pink, and purple. It is made up of 100 of shades of every color, and every mix of color imaginable. Take just the 1,000’s of shade combinations of purple in the rainbow. While you might think that no one will notice if one shade is not shining brightly, the rainbow is diminished in its beauty when that happens. It requires every single shade to be there, in order to be the beautiful promise of God. We require every one of you to shine brightly to deliver the promise of God, which he made when he sent you to this earth.
“Let excellence be your brand . . . When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. Doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing the right thing, will always bring the right thing to you” – Oprah
At work the panel of lights over about 10 desks in a row for some reason turns itself off and on by itself. Since we are surrounded by windows you don’t really notice as it slowly fades to the off position. It does a gradual shut down. But when it turns back on 20 minutes or so later, you really notice the brightness of the light. I missed it subconsciously. It is funny how while I always notice when the lights have turned back on, I don’t notice the gradual turning off. I think that leadership is like this. You may be busy doing your work and not notice right away when leadership is missing – but when it shows up, fully turned on, you notice right away.
Being a leader is an interesting subject for women. In Sheryl Sandberg’s Ted Talk she shared how when she was in school, she was told to not raise her hand so much. I remember the same thing happening to me. The feeling that I was given and even told, was that because I raised my hand all of the time, I was bossy, a know-it-all, too smart for myself. I was making the entire class feel bad. No one else would raise their hand, because I did, and so on. So I shut down and started being even more invisible.
“What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one, she’s already had everything she needs within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not” – Rupi Kaur
I started waiting for someone to pick me instead of volunteering, and this carried over into my adult life. I turned down promotions saying that I didn’t want the responsibility, when what I really wanted to say was I didn’t want to risk being told to once again become invisible. I continually pushed down the answers I had for senior management and let others steal the ideas and promote themselves.
I finally had enough and became what I called an agent of change for my own self. I started listening and following my intuition. I stepped out of my comfort zone, stood up and voiced my opinions. And I have kept expanding my comfort zone.
“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions. That we’ll screw up royally sometimes, understanding that failure is not the opposite of success. It’s part of success” – Arianna Huffington
Every mistake I have made is like compost in the garden. It may feel and smell like manure when it happens, but if I compost those failures into my life, I can learn and grow from them. I learned that I can fail and my life isn’t over. I learned that the person who judges me the most has been me, and so I gave the judge permission to cheer me on instead.
“If you look close enough at the world around you, you might find someone like you. Someone trying to find their way. Someone trying to find themselves. Sometimes, it seems like you are the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, unsatisfied, barely getting by. That feelings a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay. Because we all need a little help sometimes. We need someone to remind us that it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there. And that someone will find you” – Unknown
I heard a story that Oprah bit her tongue a lot when she first started her talk show. Then one day she had a guest who was a cheating husband. The wife came on the show and she did not know what was going to happen. Oprah watched this woman who was exposed before all of the world, to see her reactions as her world came crashing down on her. Something inside Oprah shifted. She had a meeting after the show and told the producers they would never do anything like that again. That was the moment when her show changed, and truly became her show. I don’t know if it was a true story, but I can certainly believe that something like that happened.
You sometimes do what you think you need to do to pay your dues. You bite your tongue and skate the boundaries of your ethics. Then comes that defining moment when you stand up. Just like Oprah, you say that “this will not happen again”. I will not allow it or tolerate it any longer. You win because you have the talent, the skills, the reputation to back you up. You become the storm that no one can stop.
I love this quote I found, “when you dance to your own rhythm, people may not understand you; they may even hate you. But mostly they’ll wish they had the courage to do the same.” I am going to hang it over my desk. I have spent too much of my life wishing I had the courage to do what I see others doing. Instead I am going to “dance to my own rhythm” and inspire others to do the same.
“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do” – Oprah
The Lion is released from the cage, and ready for the grand adventure!