It feels as though I’ve spent my entire life wondering ‘why’. Why do people do the things they do? Why do people think the way they do? Why do they act the way they do even knowing that what they are doing isn’t working for them or is harmful in some way? Why don’t leaders show the courage we need them to show? Why is it that politicians seem to be the last people to encourage ‘shift’?
When my grandfather was a young man he suffered regularly with bronchitis, his doctor suggested he take up smoking to help his lungs expand!! That was the level of thinking in the 1930s. I’ve just watched the Australian elections where the man who has just won a second term thinks that woman should get out of the workforce so more men can get INTO the workforce! That is 1940s thinking. He said quite clearly he has no plans to tackle climate change in Australia and yet he was voted back in! Perhaps we get the leaders we deserve. Perhaps ‘we the people’ need a kick up the backside?
So I’ve put together what I believe are 4 levels of understanding ‘shift’:
The FEAR level. This is where we tap into scarcity; lack; powerlessness; grief. We think only of me and mine. Leaders at this stage fiercely hold onto power and control thinking that makes them important and irreplaceable.
The APATHY level. This is where we abdicate responsibility; hand over our power to someone else; look the other way; prefer not to see what is really going on around us thinking it’s all tool hard and it’s not my problem. Someone else can worry about things.
The AWARENESS level. It’s at this point we actually realise what is happening. At this stage we will be concerned and possibly even fearful, but it’s at this point we actually have two choices. We can decide we see what is happening but prefer to take no action, or we can see what is happening and realise we have to take action. Denial is not a river in Egypt (as the alcoholics say).
The ACTION level. Only when enough people are willing to say ‘enough’ will a shift take place; only when politicians fear losing their seats will they be dragged screaming and kicking into taking action. Only when business leaders fear losing shareholders will they change habits that are detrimental to people, property and even communities. Some people change when they see the light, others when they feel the heat!So what are YOU seeing and feeling and sensing and being uncomfortable with? Is it the rich getting richer? Is it jobs vanishing with little or no warning? Is it local businesses not caring for the environment? Is it the business you work for cutting corners that create an unsafe work environment?
This is big stuff I know. It’s scary to speak up. It’s scary to take action. It’s terrifying to say ‘enough’. But if you don’t who will? And if you don’t what will the consequences be for your conscience; your family; your community and the future we leave behind for our children and grandchildren? As Helen Keller once said ‘I can’t do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.’
Will you speak up for a work colleague; will you speak out against a business in your community; will you speak out about unsafe practices; will you do your bit for the environment? Once we are at the ‘Awareness’ level we simply can’t close our eyes to what we see. We have the power to make shift happen. And it is only at the ‘Action’ stage that shift will happen.
Ann Andrews CSP
Speaker, author, profiler, Life Member NSANZ
PS: ON THE TOPIC OF BULLYING AND SPEAKING UP
Given that It is estimated that workplace bullying affects 1:4 people (source – Workplaces Against Violence), I recently turned a workshop I ran on bullying into a free e.book. If one of your ‘fears’ is either that you are being bullied, or that you are witnessing bullying, check out:
- The difference between harassment and bullying – and there is a difference
- What bullying (in the workplace) is – a definition
- Signs of bullying
- Who are the bullies
- The weapons a workplace bully will use
- What is NOT considered bullying
- Tips and tools if you suspect you are being bullied
- Tips and tools for an organization to identify and deal with bullying
- Some stats – A Career Building survey
- Are men more likely to bully than women?
- The staggering costs of bullying
- Further information
Further informationYou can download the free e.book here.
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Check out my latest book: Leaders Behaving Badly: What happens when ordinary people show up, stand up and speak.
Testimonial:“Ann thank you very much for your excellent presentation to our Annual Managers & Leadership Conference. We consider a delegate score of 3.7 a good result, and 4 or above as excellent. You scored 4.63 – this is not only the best score of the conference, it’s the best score for the year so far (out of 70 speakers)!” EMA (Northern) Inc.
To book Ann to liven up your next conference call her on 0272 465 585.