Are you Terrified to Participate?

afraid and anxious woman

Seth Godin talks a lot about fear, and our response to it in our lives.

In one keynote presentation he gave, he said something like this:

“You’re in a meeting and you want say something.  But you don’t.  Because you think your comment might be silly. If your comment is silly then your boss might realise.  Then she might read your CV again.  If she does, she might realise that you lied about something on it.  Then she’ll fire you, but you won’t be able to get another job.  Then you’ll run out of money, you won’t be able to eat, and you’ll die.”

Yep – making a comment might result in your death.

Should you Weigh In to the Discussion?

Sure, I’m not an advocate of everything piling up their comments on everything always.

But neither am I a fan of valuable contributions remaining un-made because the person who might of made it sits there, terrified.

It’s quite simple: decisions are made by those that show up.

Sure – you might be junior.

You might be inexperienced.

You might get shot down in flames.

And you might get embarrassed.

Which of those is a good enough reason for you to shrink back into your chair and wait passively for yet another meeting to end without your contribution?

Are you an Imposter?

I suspect this is your issue.

You look around and see a bunch of more senior people in the room.  They’re vocal, confident, opinionated and brash about their views.

All of them have a story about how “we tried that in 1947 and it didn’t work – that’s why it’s a rubbish idea”.

There’s also a good chance that these people pay your wages.

So do you really belong?  Does your opinion actually matter?  Or are you just an imposter, hoping to hide in your seat until you can leave?

There are some junior lawyers that overreach when they shouldn’t.  They express views that they shouldn’t, and they weigh in when they haven’t properly clarified their own opinion or why they hold it.

However, the majority of talented young lawyers have the opposite problem – they have great ideas, but are simply afraid to suggest them.

So let me ask you this: what’s with the fear?

Embracing Fear

The fear won’t go away.

Nor will the risks.  No matter how old you get, you still might be embarrassed, told off, shot down, or over-ruled.

The trick is not to get to a point where you no longer feel nervous.  The trick is to understand that fear is an inevitable corollary of trying something new, of effecting change, or of making big decisions.

Don’t fear the fear.

Instead, understand why it’s there.

An unexpected Consequence of Silence

One of the problems we have is that remaining silent when you had something to say actually feeds into poor behaviours.

If you feel like you never get to “say your piece” (even if it’s your fault) you’re going to spend more time and energy complaining about the meetings, the decisions, and the tasks that you have been allocated.

Of course, that won’t achieve anything – you’re just complaining, after all.  However you will start to resent the decision makers who are imposing their views on you.

At the very least, you can minimise that by expressing your view, having an idea, implementing your concepts.

Decisions are Made by Those that Show Up

If you have something valuable to say – then say it.

Wisdom dictates that you shouldn’t say stupid things – however if you are genuinely wanting to develop your career, then you also need to apply your best.  Is remaining silent the best?  Is failing to participate the best?  Will you advance in your career by doing nothing?

Surely not.

What’s Your Idea?

So let me ask you this: what’s your big idea?  What is it that you’ve been dying to try out, but haven’t yet gotten around to.

Once you have answered that in the comments – then hop to it!