Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Courage to Speak Up

Recently I spoke up. I was afraid, but I felt deeply that I had to say the words. The words were met with mostly silence, a bit of pushback, and some support too. Then I realized that the words had created more energy and discussion than I thought, energy and discussion distant from me.

So now the words will likely be a focal point of an upcoming meeting. I imagine some will challenge my thinking, and I won't be fully prepared since the challenges have not been shared with me ahead of time. What will I do?

First, I will acknowledge that the words I shared were shared with dignity and humanity in mind, they were words that I hoped would help all of us to think deeply about the people we support and why we support them.

Secondly, the words may call forth a past issue that was controversial. If that is true, I'll share the truth that I know of from that incident and be willing to hear others' truth too. It's an issue that I reached out to settle long ago, but no one would discuss it or talk to me about it. After many invitations to clarify the situation, I gave up reaching out and found peace with the issue myself. It's likely if this issue arises again that I may have to re-live, revisit, and revise all that I know about the issue. The bottom line is something happened that wasn't ideal, but the underlying intent and focus of the situation was positive and good. The situation was put to rest without any closure. So it's likely that there is more to learn and old wounds will be open, but since I understand my part in the issue well and have been transparent about in multiple posts, emails, and discussions, I can accept the fact that it may be the time that others are ready to speak up and I will seek to understand their points of view better. We'll see.

Thirdly, there may be some that disagree with my words shared, and I'm open to learning more. It was challenging for me to speak up, but I knew I had to speak up to foster greater respect, equity, and good work. I certainly don't know it all, and I'm open to learning.

It takes courage to speak up particularly if you're a new member of a team, a minority member of a group, or a person with a unique perspective, but I continue to hold MLK's words close to my heart, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." I will bring that quote to the meeting with me and I'll also bring my best ability with regard to listening to understand as inspired by Lehmann and Chase's book, Building School 2.0, and led by this quote from To Kill a Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. . .Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."