Are you tough enough to take a stand? No one was at Enron.
If you have a position of influence, and don’t take a stand for what you believe, then it’s the same as not caring. You don’t have to go racing out in the streets looking for a soapbox to shout from, but when the subject comes up, you have every right to speak up. Especially if it’s something important to you.
You don’t have to be belligerent, noisy or loud when taking your stand, but you should never be afraid, or feel like you need to apologize for your beliefs. Who gave anybody the authority to lord over you with their opinions? They have things they believe in – so do you. If you let them dominate the conversation, even when you know they’re wrong, then by default you let them win and influence the undecided.
Silence equals not caring.
If you don’t speak up, the only thing anyone else can assume is that it’s just not that important to you. None of us knows everything – although some act like it. However, in life there are going to be lots of issues you will find yourself getting involved in, and becoming quite knowledgeable on.
That can turn you into someone of substance with strong opinions on important subjects, with plenty of facts to back yourself up. It puts you in a position to make an impact for good by passing on your insight to others – maybe even changing their minds.
Speak up and inject the truth you know into the conversation.
You can’t worry about the fact that not everyone is going to agree with you. You can’t worry that there may be some who are dogmatically opposed to what you’re saying. That’s their problem, not yours.
There may be some people listening who were leaning your way but who are just not quite convinced. You could be the one who gives them just enough information to help them make the right decision for themselves.
Your willingness to share just might save them from some big mistakes.
Timing is the key.
I’m not recommending you become a big bore, constantly pontificating on one subject after another, or become the annoying neighbor with an opinion on everything – the one everyone avoids.
I am saying that your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, and at the right place, at the right time, when the opportunity presents itself, take a stand and speak up. That’s your chance to make a difference.
Don’t underestimate yourself. It may be that your speaking up at a critical time is just the thing another person needs to hear.
Enron had thousands of employees, but only a handful spoke up.
Check the record. The first alarms were set off by one female executive. Initially, she was ignored. But eventually a few more joined, and the crumbling of the huge empire of fraud exploded – until Enron totally collapsed.
Thousands knew the company was out of control, but no one spoke up until it was way, way too late.
Bernie Madoff ran a hundred billion dollar shell game.
He had hundreds of employees. They may not have known exactly what was wrong, but they knew something was. How else could he have shown such ridiculously high returns EVERY single year? He couldn’t – legitimately. Did anyone speak up? No.
The results were that when Madoff was caught, their lives were destroyed as well. They would have been better off to speak up and sound the alarm. If no one listened, then leave and at least save themselves from the coming disaster.
Sure, you have strong morals and beliefs, but history shows us that it only counts if you are tough enough to take a stand when you see them being violated.