We need people who will stand up and question when most others remain
silent. Silence is not always an indication that all is well. It could be a warning sign
that the so-called leadership has stymied a culture of curiosity,
questioning, and dialogue.
More than fifty years ago, my father told an apocryphal story about a returning veteran. It seems the Great War was over and the whole town came out to celebrate and cheer as the returning soldiers marched down Main Street. One sweet little old woman was beaming when she spotted her son, Dominic, marching down the boulevard. Her chest pounded with pride. She did notice something a bit odd, though. While all of the other soldiers were marching “left-right-left-right”, Dominic was happily moving along at “right-left-right-left.” Not missing a beat herself, she turned to the woman next to her and said, “Isn’t it a shame. Everyone is out of step except my Dominic!”
Sometimes we can be blinded by what we believe or do. We may think we are doing what is best, but a quick reality check might reveal our way to be totally out of step. No matter how much we say everyone else is out of step, it could be us.
Over the years (decades) though, I have come to see my father’s story in a different light. In fact, I have come to embrace Dominic the young soldier. I have found that one of the first statements thrown my way when I have to work with someone who does not like to be questioned is “You are the first person to express this confusion/frustration/problem/challenge.” The not-so-subtle intimation: “Since no one else has indicated a problem, they must all be getting it and doing the right thing. Steve, stop going ‘right-left-right-left’.”
I am also reminded (true story) of a nurse I know. Early in her nursing career, it was customary for the floor nurse to make rounds with the doctor going from room to room. One day, as this young nurse was preparing to make rounds, the doctor arrogantly thrust the patient charts in her face for her to carry. In his mind, that is what a nurse was for—carry the charts and walk behind the doctor. Everyone did it “left-right-left-right.” The nurse took umbrage, dropped the charts in the middle of the floor, and walked away. The doctor got the point, picked up the charts, and from then on referred to her as “chief.” Point in favor of “right-left-right-left”!
History is full of accounts of people who had the courage to stand up and challenge wrongheaded decisions. Just because “no one else has mentioned” a problem does not mean it does not exist. Too often people decide to travel the path of least resistance. Maybe they fear for their position. Maybe they lack the courage to stand up. Maybe they just hope someone else will take care of the actual challenge—and then they can reap the rewards and “look good” as the “team player.”
Video recommendation for the week:
What have others said about courage?
I do know that we need people who—in the very name of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking—will stand up and question when most others remain silent. Silence is not always an indication that all is well. It could be a warning sign that the so-called leadership has stymied a culture of curiosity, questioning, and dialogue.
Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!
On July 15, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: Fostering Civility and Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude. Take advantage of this complementary offering. Click here to register now for the webinar. Or go to my website for registration information.
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©2013. Steve Piscitelli